Another Putin critic dead, as Russia tops US globally

Russian opposition leader Konstantin Sinitsyn was found dead of head injuries in the entrance to his apartment building, according to St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly lawmaker Boris Vishnevsky.

Vishnevsky. a leader in the Russian United Democratic Party, posted the report on February 2, although Sinitsyn was apparently killed on January 26.

The lawmaker said Sinitsyn died of trauma to the head and that police had detained one suspect, whose motive they say was robbery.

Last October, an opposition activist from the Solidarity democratic opposition movement, Alexei Stroganov, died of a craniocerebral injury received after being attacked with an iron rod two months before his death.

Sinitsyn, 53, was a regular participant in pro-democracy and anti-corruption demonstrations in St. Petersburg.

In 2015, he supported a wave of protests conducted by long-distance truckers against rising road tariffs. He also figured prominently in St. Petersburg protests against a government decision to hand the landmark St. Isaac’s Cathedral over to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Konstantin Sinitsyn, Alexei Stroganov, Vladimir Putin

Despite such internal political violence, President Donald Trump has often said he sees areas for cooperation and he is confident he can reach deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is running circles around his America counterpart.

America’s loss of international prestige is readily apparent as Russia took center stage in world affairs.

In 2017, Moscow strong-armed Syria’s peace process and sent the West into chaos after Russian trolls used social media to delegitimatize America’s elections. Russia’s state oil company snatched a flurry of high-risk energy deals in warring countries where the West is vying for influence.

Putin was welcomed in Syria last year by President Bashar Assad as the guardian of the embattled regime, whose staying power had baffled the entire Western world.

Then Putin announced a $21-billion nuclear energy deal in Egypt and joined President Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey to chastise the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Donald Trump has often expressed admiration for Putin, a former KGB agent.

Trump signed into law fresh sanctions against Russia last August and Moscow retaliated by evicting hundreds of U.S. diplomatic staff, but penalties designed to punish Russia for election meddling have not been implemented by the Republican administration.

The Treasury did publish a list of senior Kremlin officials and every Russian oligarch with a net worth of $1 billion or more, but the Trump administration stopped short of imposing any new punishments. 

Trump was required to publish the list by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAASTA), which sought to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election, human rights violations, the annexation of Crimea and ongoing military actions in eastern Ukraine.

The political and economic benefits of the Kremlin’s ambitious geopolitical gambits will only become clear in the long-term, but Putin is expected to win hands down in March elections, which are largely defined by the absence of real competition for the presidency.

The Kremlin’s new role as the principle Middle East power broker in the, sidelining the United States, as Russia not only brought rival parties of the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table, but it solidified relationships with the region’s fiercest adversaries Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose king last year made a historic visit to Moscow.


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