Anything Russia can do, you can do, too. That is the message Washington is sending to repressive, power-hungry governments around the world. With each step that President Vladimir Putin takes to restrict the freedoms of the Russian people, like-minded leaders watch U.S. (and European) reactions and, seeing weak responses, are emboldened to abuse human rights in a similar manner.

Putin’s crackdown on human rights is motivated by his desire to quell the protest movement that arose in December 2011, when hundreds of thousands of Russians took to the streets to demonstrate against unfair parliamentary elections. In March 2012, protesters were further incensed by the unfair elections that returned Putin to the presidency.

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