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Perverting Democracy in Russia, Iran & Nicaragua; Arrest & Disqualify Your Opponents

Authoritarian leaders in Russia, Iran, and Nicaragua follow similar playbooks when it comes to winning elections; find some pretense to disqualify or arrest your most popular opponents. Elections then are mere formalities, something to add a bit of legitimacy to your dictatorship. Don't get me wrong, many other autocrats engage in similar perversions of democracy, but these three have made headlines recently with their efforts.

Iran has a presidential election today, but the outcome has been predetermined by the clerics of the Guardian Council that vet the candidates and decide who can run for office. In this case, the winner will be the very conservative judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, the only presidential candidate that has any real support. Popular opponents were all disqualified for a variety of ridiculous reasons having nothing to do with their fitness for office. Ayatollah Khamenei and his Guardian Council wanted to make sure they weren't faced with another surprise like in 2017 when the current President, Hassan Rouhani, defeated Raisi.

In Russia, we recently documented Vladimir Putin's ongoing effort to stay in office for life; if you can't kill your opponents, disqualify them. After a botched assassination attempt, Putin used the Russian courts to accomplish that.

Illuminate: "Step by step, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is establishing a virtual dictatorship in Russia by crushing all viable opposition. This week, a Russian court designated Aleksei A. Navalny’s political organization as an extremist group. Under the law, Navalny’s organizers, donors, and social-media supporters could be prosecuted and face prison sentences. The designation also bars the group from running parliamentary candidates this Fall in an attempt to silence Putin's most effective critics and allow the Russian President to serve for another decade or more."

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega is pulling out all stops to ensure his victory in November. Ortega had his most popular opponent, Cristiana Chamorro, arrested last week, and this week rounded up prominent critics including some that fought beside him to end the reign of former dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Guardian: "Six opposition figures were arrested at the weekend, including revered former guerrillas who fought alongside Ortega during the campaign to topple the dictator Anastasio Somoza and went on to serve in the first Sandinista government."

And, in order to prevent any surprises in November, Ortega has also targeted the other potential presidential candidates with even some small level of popular support.

Guardian: "After Chamorro’s arrest, three other possible candidates were detained: the academic Félix Maradiaga, who was beaten by police, the economist Juan Sebastián Chamorro, who is Cristiana Chamorro’s cousin, and former ambassador to the US Arturo Cruz."

Nicaragua, Russia, and Iran have now become virtual dictatorships, despite all the trappings of democracy. It's a troubling trend and it's spreading.

#news #Nicaragua #Russia #Iran

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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