All too often since the Crimean Anschluss of 2014, Moscow has used its powers in the occupied Ukrainian peninsula to test out and develop repressive measures that it has then extended to the Russian Federation. Among the most notorious of these, of course, is the use of psychiatric incarceration against dissidents.
That has attracted attention, but it is far from the only area in which this is the case. According to Michael Talanov, a member of the Free Russia Forum who lives in San Francisco, Moscow has completely isolated Crimea in cyberspace – an obvious test and indication of its broader plans (ru.krymr.com/a/michael-talanov-anneksiya-kryma-privela-k-cifrovoi-izolyacii-poluostrova/30425021.html).
Mr. Talanov tells U.S.-based Russian journalist Kseniya Kirillova that Moscow has gone much further in restricting Internet access in Crimea than elsewhere, effectively cutting off residents from the information and business possibilities that the world wide web offers those who are able to make use of it.
The details he provides about Crimea and about the Russian Federation more generally are intriguing, but the most important aspect of his interview is to serve as a reminder that Moscow is not only behaving much worse toward the population of occupied Crimea than it is toward that of the Russian Federation, but it is also using Crimea to test its repressive measures.
All too many people have forgotten Crimea altogether. The illegal occupation continues. But they should be concerned about it not only because Crimea is Ukrainian but because an occupied Crimea is where Vladimir Putin has been working on the techniques that he is planning to implement elsewhere.
That reality should be enough to convince those now indifferent to the situation in Crimea that it is important not only in its own right and in terms of Ukraine, but also significant because of its impact in this way on the Russian Federation, the rights of its citizens and that country’s relations with the rest of the world.
Paul Goble is a long-time specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. The article above is reprinted with permission from his blog called “Window on Eurasia” (http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/).