Americans should look at whatâ€™s happening in Russia as we look back on the January 6 attack on the Capitol and Donald Trumpâ€™s efforts to undo a legal election.
Last Saturday, tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in over 100 cities, from St. Petersburg to Siberia, in sub-zero weather, to demand democracy and protest Vladimir Putinâ€™s repressive rule.
It all started a week before. Alexei Navalny, an anti-Putin activist, was returning to Russia. He had just recovered from being poisoned by government agents in August. As soon as his plane landed in Moscow, Putinâ€™s police arrested him.
But Navalny had a surprise for Putin. He released a video exposing Putinâ€™s colossal, career-long corruption. Some 90 million people have seen it. (A link is below.)
Titled â€œPutinâ€™s palace. History of worldâ€™s largest bribe,â€ it documents a billion-dollar palace built on the Black Sea for Putin â€“ with ornate Italian furniture, a wine cellar, wineries and vineyards, a hookah room with a pole-dancing stage, a tunnel to the sea, an underground ice hockey rink, a two-story theater, a casino and an â€œaquadiscoteque.â€
Navalny, who narrates the video, said one bathroomâ€™s gold toilet-paper holder cost more than most Russiansâ€™ apartments.
Dictators fear the truth. When protesters poured into the streets, baton-swinging police in riot gear attacked them. Navalnyâ€™s wife Yulia was detained. More than 4,000 people have been arrested.
This time at least, the President of the United States isnâ€™t giving Putin aid and comfort.
Maybe one day weâ€™ll learn the truth about why Donald Trump never stood up to Putin, even after Russia put bounties on American soldiersâ€™ heads and launched a massive cyberattack on us last year.
We know that Putin interfered in the 2016 election and there were extensive contacts between Russian agents and the Trump campaign. You can thank North Carolinaâ€™s Senator Richard Burr for that; he co-chaired the Senate Intelligence Committeeâ€™s investigation into Russiaâ€™s role in the election. The committee set out the facts in a five-volume report.
In America, whatever our faults, there is accountability, unlike Russia.
In Washington January 6, Trump incited armed thugs who attacked the police, the Capitol and our democracy. The House impeached him, and now the Senate will try him.
In Russia, police thugs attacked the people and democracy. Putin gets away with it, for now. There are no free elections and no free speech.
There is one uncomfortable issue for Never-Trumpers. Navalny considers Twitterâ€™s suspension of Trump â€œan unacceptable act of censorship.â€ If Twitter and Facebook can silence Presidents, they can silence protesters.
Letâ€™s take a lesson from this troubled month of January, both from what happened in Russia and from what happened here: To keep our democracy, we have to keep up our guard.
Letâ€™s honor the courage of Navalny and the Russian people. Letâ€™s hope they live to enjoy democracy.
Letâ€™s recommit ourselves to truth and facts. Letâ€™s resolve to have the courage of our convictions.
Letâ€™s have truth and courage.
Link to the Putin Palace video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipAnwilMncIÂ