Our guest author today is Arch Puddington, director of research at Freedom House.
Two years ago, Elena Bonner, frail in body but not in mind or spirit, had this to say about conditions in Russia:
The West isn’t very interested in Russia….There are no real elections there, no independent courts, and no freedom of the press. Russia is a country where journalists, human rights activists and migrants are killed regularly, almost daily. And extreme corruption flourishes of a kind and extent that never existed earlier in Russia or anywhere else. So what do the Western mass media discuss mainly? Gas and oil -- of which Russia has a lot. Energy is its only political trump card, and Russia uses it as an instrument of pressure and blackmail. And there’s another topic that never disappears from the newspapers -- who rules Russia? Putin or Medvedev? But what difference does it make, if Russia has completely lost the impulse for democratic development that we thought we saw in the early 1990s.Here, in a few sentences of remarkable insight, Bonner, who died recently, neatly summarized much of Russian reality today.