Mr. Trump’s dark ties to Russia

Vasyl Stus, Ukrainian poet.

By far the most disturbing revelation about Mr. Trump’s Russia connection is the recent report by Reuters that one of the 18 un-reported Russia connections of the Trump campaign team included Viktor V. Medvedchuk. Reportedly, Mr. Medvedchuk, a close confidant and a personal fixer of Russian President Putin, was dispatched by Russians to lend his unique expertise and advice to Mr. Trump’s campaign as Russian intelligence agencies undertook the most successful covert operation in their history, ultimately succeeding in hacking the American election to help install Putin’s choice as the President of the US.

What makes this report uniquely disturbing is that Mr. Medvedchuk is infamous for his 1980 role as the defendant of the Soviet dissident poet Vasyl Stus. Despite the poet’s refusal to accept Mr. Medvedchuk as his lawyer, Mr. Medvedchuk persisted, giving an impassioned speech at the conclusion of the trial, in which Mr. Medvedchuk proudly proclaimed that his own client was guilty as charged and deserved the harshest penalty: slave labor in the Gulag. Vasyl Stus was convicted and sent to the Perm-36 forced labor camp for political prisoners on the Western edge of Siberia. While a prisoner there, he wrote this into a secret Notebook that was smuggled to West after his death:

The present prison conditions are worse than people remember from Mordovia, the black zones, or Sosnovka. The police regimen has reached its peak. A law of complete lawlessness is what regulates our so-called relations. Searches are conducted in the most arbitrary fashion: they seize anything they like without any notice or official record. We have lost every right to be ourselves, not to mention the right to have books, notebooks and writings.
There is a saying that when God wishes, to punish someone, he deprives him of reason. We cannot go on in this way much longer. Pressure such as this is possible only before death.
I do not know when death will come for the others, but I personally feel it approaching.

On September 4, 1985, five years into his sentence, Vasyl Stus went on a hunger strike. The same year, he was nominated to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. However, Vasyl Stus died in the Perm-36 prison camp before receiving the 1986 Nobel Prize. Less than three years later, in 1989, revolutions swept through Eastern Europe, toppling communism worldwide and brining down the USSR.

I am thankful to The Rachel Maddow Show for reporting tonight on this connection between Mr. Medvedchuk and the White House, and for paying respect, on her show, to Vasyl Stus.

It is sad that Mr. Donald J. Trump’s relentless pursuit of power and fame had blinded him to such a degree that he was willing to form the unholy political alliance with the likes of Mr. Medvedchuk in his rise to power. But it is even sadder that the American Presidency, the very institution that is supposed to champion the values of human liberty for which Vasyl Stus courageously gave his life, is now soiled by its dark connections to the legacy of terror — -as long Mr. Trump remains in power.