NEW YORK -- More than 50 former Soviet dissidents who spent years in prisons and Siberian exile say Russia is in danger of slipping back into a police state under President Vladimir Putin and the former KGB colleagues he has brought to power.
Graying and aging, the former political prisoners reminisced one night this week about how they challenged the totalitarian superpower to abide by laws that on paper guaranteed free speech, a free press and fair trials.
The former dissidents include Eduard Kuznetsov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Yuri Orlov, Ludmilla Thorne, and many other well-known names from the Soviet era.
The report notes that
Bukovsky, who won his freedom in a swap for Chilean Communist Louis Corvalan on Dec. 18, 1976, recalled that Putin has lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union as "a tragedy." He said Putin's colleagues also share this view.
"They do so because they used to be young officers of the KGB ... and they still have the feeling that they served the great power and now they want the great power to be back, and they think by repeating the Soviet example they once again will bring greatness to Russia," Bukovsky said.
The whole of the report can be read here.
Update 14/11/2004: The Washington Times has more on the story.