Concerns Grow Putin May Implement Martial Law

( In the face of rumors that Russia might close its borders and impose martial law, last week thousands of Russians tried to flee the country.

The rumors were so widespread, on Saturday, President Putin was forced to deny the claims that his government planned to impose martial law.

Of course, Putin also denied that Russia planned to invade Ukraine. So that probably won’t do much to assuage concerns, especially in light of the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent.

Axios reported last Friday that since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, over 8,000 people had already been detained for participating in anti-war demonstrations in Russia. The independent human rights group OVD-Info, however, puts the number of arrests closer to 13,500.

And with Moscow criminalizing the dissemination of “fake news” and imposing prison time for journalists who defy the Kremlin’s narrative on Ukraine, some fear that martial law may be inevitable.

Last Friday, Russia blocked foreign news websites like the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle. Facebook and Twitter were also blocked.

The Kremlin also shut down the last remaining independent Russian news broadcasters, TV Rain and Echo Moscow.

After the Russian parliament passed the law to censor news reporting, independent Russian journalists reportedly began fleeing the country for Turkey out of fear of Moscow’s crackdown.

Meanwhile, Russia’s economy is feeling the impact of international sanctions. Its currency has lost half of its value, with one ruble now worth less than 3/4 of a cent. Russians desperate to withdraw what’s left of their savings are lining up in droves at ATMs.

International companies have suspended business in Russia, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Netflix, Sony, Dell, Toyota, and Visa.

Russian air travel has been severely restricted with dozens of countries including the US, Canada, and the entire European Union closing airspace to Russian planes.

With all this pressure placed on Putin, his denials over martial law aren’t particularly reassuring.

Some hope that Putin’s crackdown may be a sign that he is on his way out. But even if that is the case, there is still a great deal of damage he could do to the Russian people before he’s gone.