GLOBAL GATHERING — During a rambling speech at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa this weekend, Republican poll leader Donald Trump praised Russia’s President Vladimir Putin while at the same time lamented his disappointment that Time Magazine chose German chancellor Angela Merkel for Person of the Year instead of him, saying that Merkel “made a mess” of her country.
Trump has embraced recent praise by the Russian president who called him “talented without doubt" and "brilliant” during a news conference last week. He returned the compliments, saying that Putin is "highly respected in his own country and beyond." When questioned by MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough about his remarks regarding Putin, Trump said "He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country.” Scarborough commented that Putin has killed journalists and political opponents, to which Trump responded that the “U.S. does plenty of killing.” Later in the weekend, Trump demanded proof that Putin and/or his administration killed journalists while in a heated interview with ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos.
Time pointed out that each time a major incident or episode presented itself, Merkel stepped in with solutions. Germany bailed out Greece when the country’s possible bankruptcy threatened the existence of the euro zone. It opened its doors to migrants and refugees, recognizing that thousands of people were victims of extreme Islamist barbarism and it deployed troops to fight against ISIS. On top of this, Merkel led the West’s response to the Ukraine crisis created by Putin.
On the other hand, Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization whose activities include research and advocacy on human rights, has said that Putin’s return to the presidency has created the worst human rights climate unprecedented in the country’s post-Soviet history. The organization has said that many of the laws and the treatment of civil society violate Russia’s international human rights commitments.
The 78-page report, “Laws of Attrition: Crackdown on Russia’s Civil Society after Putin’s Return to the Presidency,” describes some of the changes since Putin returned to the presidency in May 2012. Authorities have introduced restrictive laws, conducted invasive inspections of nongovernmental organizations, have harassed, intimidated, and in a number of cases imprisoned political activists, and have tried to present government critics as clandestine enemies.
With regard to journalists, According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 56 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992, including at least 23 since Putin took power again.
Just Sunday evening, Putin said Russia will continue to develop nuclear weapons but doesn't intend to use them. The Russian leader made the comment in a documentary called "World Order", which was aired on state television. His statements come during a severe strain in Russia's relations with the U.S. and its NATO allies, which have dropped to the lowest point since the Cold War over the crises in Ukraine and Syria. Last March, Putin said Russia had “considered” using a nuclear option over Crimea.
It turns out that Republican front runner Trump supports Putin, a person that uses force and intimidation to lead his country, instead of supporting Merkel, a person that, as Time said, “.. brandished a different set of values—humanity, generosity, tolerance—to demonstrate how Germany’s great strength could be used to save, rather than destroy.”