LETTER: Like going back to the USSR

As a former citizen of the USSR who has lived in the UK for almost 20 years the EU referendum debate sometimes makes me think I am going backwards in time.

I was born and grew up in Belarus which was then one of the republics within the Soviet empire. I studied hard, gained a degree in business and trade and worked for the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce.

I met my British husband while we were both working in Belarus and we decided to make our home in the UK.

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Today I am not alone among former citizens of the Soviet Empire who can see a chilling and growing similarity between the EU and the oppressive totalitarian regime from which we, and so many others, were relieved to see end.

The ideology and the political structure of the USSR and the 21st century EU are eerily alike. In the USSR we could not elect the leader or members of the Politburo – how similar this is to the EU Commission!

Like the Politburo, the Commission is a closed world of self-serving bureaucrats, immune from the need to seek any sort of democratic, electoral mandate.

There were 16 supposed republics in the USSR with their own political elites and leadership but all of our laws and regulations came from Moscow – just as in the EU they come from unelected, unaccountable Brussels’ bureaucrats. Opposition was simply not tolerated and punishment would follow.

Totalitarian regimes are dismissive of democracy and heedless of the views of ordinary people. So it was in the USSR and so it is today in the EU. We may not have a Gulag in the EU but many millions of Europeans are suffering under awful austerity and heartless economic policies imposed, not by their own elected leaders, but by the diktats of the Brussels “Politburo”.

Sometimes I just want to cry out: ‘Wake up people! Do you not see where are you heading? You are sleepwalking backwards in time’.

On June 23rd my own, personal experience of living under the yoke of a totalitarian regime will see me vote leave.

Tania Mitskevich