Russian political activist (and former chess champion) Garry Kasparov stuck around after The Last Word Monday to discuss the state of Russia under Putin’s increasingly restrictive rule.
Kasparov told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that Russia’s new anti-gay laws were not particularly surprising, given Putin’s recent political maneuvering.
“Putin’s regime…every month, every week, every day, you know, just comes up with new restrictions on freedom of Russia,” Kasparov said. ”That’s why I wouldn’t take anti-gay law as something, you know, absolutely outrageous; it was very natural.”
Kasparov argued that Putin is playing to his “power base” of followers, consisiting mostly of older generations. Where once he tried to convey a populist message to Russia and the world at large, massive anti-corruption protests in 2011 and 2012 convinced Putin to drop those illusions.
“He knows Moscow hates him,” he said. ”He knows young people are not voting for him.”
As for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Kasparov sees the games as a way for Putin and his friends to make money. “Anything that happens in Putin’s Russia, you have to look the prism of Putin’s buddies getting richer,” he said.
But Kasparov is against boycotting the games themselves.
“I think it’s wrong to use athletes as a shield,” Kasparov told O’Donnell. ”Many of them spent four years waiting for this big moment, so let them go there. But there are politicians who could simply boycott Putin [by] not showing up there. There are sponsors who could demonstrate their disagreement—I mean, let’s demand Coke to put rainbow flag on every can they sell there.”