Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Kremlin Says Don't Look for Common Sense From Russia's Rulers

Don’t rely on common sense if you want to understand how modern Russia is run. That’s the advice from President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

“In governing, we can’t operate on the basis of common sense,” Peskov told reporters Thursday on a conference call. “First of all, we operate in terms of what is legal and illegal.”

It’s unclear whether the law and common sense are entirely separate concepts in Putin’s Russia, where critics have long alleged that the Kremlin has bent parliament, the courts and the media to his personal will. Peskov was responding to a question on a six-year jail term handed to Dennis Christensen, a Danish Jehovah’s Witness, by a regional Russian court on Wednesday.

Russia’s Supreme Court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses after declaring it an extremist organization in 2017. Putin said in December that persecuting religious groups on grounds of extremism or terrorism is “complete nonsense.”

“Common sense is something that, of course, must be present everywhere, always and constantly, but it can’t be a criterion,” said Peskov, of the decision. “The criterion is the understanding of the law and, in that case, it can only be the decision of the court.”

The Kremlin’s governing philosophy is more subtle in practice: Russians understand that the state has a monopoly on repression, while never knowing when and whether it will resort to such methods because the rules don’t apply equally to everyone.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more