The Times of London reports:
A FORMER Soviet-era dissident who wants to stand for president of Russia has likened the lack of free speech under President Vladimir Putin to the repression of communist times.
Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent more than 12 years in camps and psychiatric hospitals before being released in 1976 and moving to Britain, said that Russians were now as scared of criticising the Kremlin as they had been during the cold war.
Speaking as he prepares to travel to Russia for the first time in 14 years to hold talks with opposition groups, Bukovsky accused Putin of turning back the clock. “I follow what happens in Russia very closely and increasingly people’s unwillingness to oppose those in power reminds me of my youth when speaking out was very dangerous,” he said.
“Russia is going backwards and there’s no democracy there. Putin’s regime won’t tolerate any kind of opposition. Clearly this is a system which is scared of any threat and too weak to face the slightest challenge to its rule.”
Bukovsky, an academic who lives in Cambridge, has announced his intention to stand in the March presidential election. However, because of his long residency outside the country he will be barred from the race.
“I know I don’t stand a chance but that is no reason to give up,” he said. “I have views about what’s going on in Russia and I’ll do all I can to air them.”