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As Russian President Vladimir Putin wages a deadly war against Ukraine, an expert says the country’s society is increasingly approaching that of North Korea.
Putin has taken a number of actions to suppress dissent in Russia, jailing people who protest the war and even journalists who report facts about what their government is doing in Ukraine.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, anti-war protests have taken place across Russia, with officials arresting at least 15,000 people in connection with the protests, according to OVD-Infoan independent human rights project focused on political persecution in Russia.
Putin also signed a law on March 4 to punish journalists with jail time for publishing information that contradicts government statements about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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People who break the law risk up to 15 years in prison.
Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital that the government’s attitude toward free speech is changing toward that of South Korea. North. Specifically, she quoted Putin’s March 17 speech.
“He called on the Russian people to call the traitors, the ‘fifth column’, obviously anyone who speaks out against the war will be punished,” Koffler said.
Putin held a huge pro-war rally on Friday, with thousands in attendance. Koffler said people who attend these types of gatherings often aren’t there of their own free will, and said there was “an implicit pressure” to attend.
“We have these parades, these protests, you were expected to go. Every employer, every school expected you to go,” Koffler said. “There was probably a call from the Russian government for people to leave.”
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“How can you refuse to go if Putin told you the day before that if you spot a traitor, if you don’t report him or if you don’t support the war in Ukraine, then you are a traitor. How not go to this event? she added.
Koffler said the country was becoming a “pariah” for the international community.
Several people in Russia have been arrested after calling for protests against the war.
Human rights activist Marina Litvinovich called for mass protests last week in a Facebook video, saying the Russian people oppose war.
“We, the Russian people, are against the war that Putin has started. We do not support this war, it is not being waged in our name,” Litvinovich said. “I know that right now many of you are feeling despair, helplessness, shame in the face of Vladimir Putin’s attack on the friendly nation of Ukraine. But I urge you not to despair. “
She was arrested shortly after uploading the video to Facebook.
Tatyana Usmanova, an anti-war activist in Russia, asked Ukrainians for forgiveness after Putin’s announcement that Russia would invade Ukraine on February 24, saying “our confrontation with these [Ukrainian] forces is inevitable.”
“I want to apologize to Ukrainians. We did not vote for those who started the war,” she said.
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The country has also started limiting access to information, as it has blocked the country’s Twitter and Facebook.
Koffler believes Putin will also continue to try to limit the flow of information from the West.