Recently, Dagbladet mentioned that Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt (Ap) believes that “the Putin regime has gone from being authoritarian to becoming increasingly totalitarian”. The Russian embassy in Norway then replied in a statement to Dagbladet that they are taking note of such schemes and are notifying the Russian government about it.
Now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a comprehensive statement signed by State Secretary Eivind Vad Petersson (Ap) to Dagbladet in which they elaborate on their view. Among other things, Petersson refers to hate speech on state-run Russian TV, which he experiences as a characteristic of a totalitarian regime.
Norway’s settlement with Russia
State Secretary Petersson begins his statement by pointing out the first of a total of three signs that the Putin regime is becoming increasingly totalitarian.
“I think we must be able to say that lately, especially since Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, the Putin regime has become increasingly totalitarian. The regime has long tried to silence critical voices, but this policy has reached new heights after Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
“The country’s last independent news media, including Novaya Gazeta, Ekho Moskvy and Dozjd, have been forced to shut down their operations. In March, the Russian parliament passed a law that makes it illegal to spread ‘fake news’ about the war in Ukraine, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison.”
“You can be jailed for using the word ‘war’ about the so-called ‘special operation’ in Ukraine, and for criticizing the Russian armed forces. Demonstrators carrying placards with the words ‘No to war’, or even placards without text, are immediately arrested”.
“This extreme alignment and gagging of critical voices are clear signs of a totalitarian system of government.”
“Ever tougher rhetoric”
Petersson also deals with hate speech, including from commentators and presenters on state-run Russian TV.
“This is accompanied by increasingly harsh rhetoric. President Putin has advocated a ‘self-purification’ of society. Parliament President Vyacheslav Volodin calls Russians who have chosen to travel abroad ‘traitors’. On state-run Russian TV, commentators and presenters call for merciless treatment of the ‘fascists’ in Ukraine on a daily basis”.
“This type of hateful rhetoric from the regime’s leading representatives is another characteristic of a totalitarian regime.”
Towards the end, Petersson comes to terms with what he refers to as a false narrative that the population is presented with.
“Furthermore, we see that the regime is trying to mobilize support from society for the aggressive warfare. The population is being presented with a false narrative that the population in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine is threatened by genocide on the part of the Ukrainian authorities”.
“Patriotism and nationalism are encouraged, right down to primary school. It is reported that teachers have lost their jobs after students pointed them out for making statements that break the regime’s line”.
“The mobilization of society, the press and a propaganda apparatus that spreads lies and incites hatred, is a third characteristic of a totalitarian regime”.
In conclusion, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes that he will support Ukraine’s defense against Russia, support work for human rights in Russia and Russian social actors who have been forced into exile.
“We look with deep concern at the development in Russia,” writes Petersson in his statement to Dagbladet.
Last week, the Russian embassy in Norway wrote to Dagbladet that they are registering statements such as Huitfeldt’s about the Putin regime, and that they are informing the Russian government about it.
“Statements from high-ranking government members against heads of state are noted in particular, and of course the aforementioned statements add to the series of unfriendly statements from Oslo against the Russian Federation,” they wrote to Dagbladet.
Subsequently, they believed that Huitfeldt’s words “reflect a trendy competition under the slogan: ‘Who will most abundantly condemn Russia'”
“It is not our style to participate in this. In addition, we follow all diplomatic ethical rules”, concluded the embassy.