Earlier today, Vladimir Putin took yet another extraordinary step away from democracy and toward dictatorship by arresting his last remaining legitimate political opponent, Alexey Navalny. Although Putin already ensures his electoral victories through farcical vote counts and fixed poll results, the arrest of his opposition shows just how fearful and jealous he is of his power.
Every autocrat, no matter how strong they might appear, is terrified of their own people. Putin is not Russia, and the Russian people are tired of the corruption and the senseless aggression of his regime. They want their rights respected just as any other people do. But Vladimir Putin has made the Kremlin an extension of his own power, and wields it to silence and oppress Russia and its people.
Navalny’s arrest is not just an abstract example of authoritarianism across the globe. It is a stark reminder of the importance of America’s commitment to liberty. Our own founding fathers enshrined the principles of freedom into our Constitution, empowering the citizenry to guard against government overreach. Our dedication to these principles at home serves as an example to people around the world who yearn for freedom, a reminder that they are not the helpless subjects of their leaders. All men and women are by nature free, and they can, and must, demand a government that respects their rights.