Russia Beyond wades into Putin row in Indonesia

Russia Beyond, a pro-government Russian news outlet, has taken a swipe at a young Indonesian politician for remarks critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin is not a model leader. He has silenced opposition and the media,” said Tsamara Amany, a 21-year-old leader of the Indonesian Solidarity Party, in a video posted on Twitter.

“In Russia, there’s no freedom of expression like we have in Indonesia,” she said before alleging that corruption was rife in Putin’s Russia.

Tsamara made the remarks in response to Indonesian opposition politician and deputy parliamentary speaker Fadli Zon, who had praised Putin while taking a thinly veiled jab at Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

But the Indonesian edition of Russia Beyond, seen as a mouthpiece for the Russian government, responded to Tsamara’s video in a series of tweets.

“We think you need to do more research about our country. We don’t meddle in Indonesia’s politics but if there are Indonesian politicians who idolize our leader, what can we do?” Russia Beyond said.

“Your remarks are regrettable because relations between the two countries are very good. You may not agree with Fadli Zon, but your remarks as a young politician shows a lack of maturity,” it said, before inviting her to come to the Russian embassy.

Fadli had made his remarks in support of Putin on Twitter last week. “If Indonesia wants to rise and be glorious, it needs a leader like Putin: brave, visionary, smart, charismatic, no penchant for debt, not clueless,” Fadli said.

The US-government-funded NGO Freedom House rates Russia as “not free” in its 2017 report. Indonesia was rated as “partly free.”

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