A Kremlin-sponsored conference hosted Texan and Californian secessionists, supposedly designed to support the right to self determination.
“We have gathered from around the world to discuss the principle and the future of self-determination in direct contradiction to those seeking a global solution to the people of the world,” representative of the Texas Nationalist Movement Nate Smith told the conference. The conference was officially titled “The Dialogue Of Nations” and received a grant from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Smith’s statement echoes the general rejection of globalism at the conference, where only separatist movements from the west were represented. Other delegations to the conference were all from states Russia has a vested interest in undermining including Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbeijan, Armenia, the U.S. and Ireland.
The conference even played a video message from the self-proclaimed King of Hawaii.
“Right now, the people of Texas do not have the opportunity to express their own foreign policy,” Alexander V. Ionov, the head of the Anti-Globalization movement within Russia, told The New York Times. Ionov admitted Russia partly hoped that the western separatist movements would put pressure on the U.S. to lift economic sanctions on Russia for its illegal 2014 annexation of Crimea. “I think the information that they transmit might make this possible,” Ionov conceded.
Russia treats its own separatist movements quite differently. Human Rights Watch 2016 Russia report notes that Russia places Dagestani separatists on “special watch lists, repeatedly detaining, questioning, photographing, and fingerprinting them—often without grounds—and in some cases carried out forced DNA sampling.”
The group highlighted the case of a human rights lawyer in Dagestan who had his jaw broken and front teeth knocked out for no apparent reason. They noted that “the authorities did not question him as a victim or carry out an effective investigation into the attack.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin also championed a law that makes it illegal to report Russian casualty numbers from Ukraine and Syria. Violation of the law carries an 8 year sentence in prison. Putin has also aggressively targeted Russian social media users who criticized his 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea.
Human Rights Watch highlighted the case of Rafis Kashapov, who was sentenced to three years in Prison for “undermining Russia’s territorial integrity and inciting hostility towards the Russian people.” Charges are also pending against a tourism advisory board that referred to Crimea as “occupied territory,” for an apparent “violation of Russia’s territorial integrity.”
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