Rachel Polonsky an academic specialising in Russian literature has an excellent piece on Russia published recently in the UK’s Spectator on the struggle between the ex-KGB agent, and Russia leader, Putin and those Russians who want to create a free society in Russia:

A photograph released in mid-November showed Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head shaved, staring through the bars of a cage into a CCTV camera at the closed hearing that denied him bail. Accompanying the picture was a warning from the deputy prosecutor, who spoke as though Khodorkovsky had already been convicted. ‘Those who are not yet jailed must think hard about what they are doing,’ he said. Russia’s new rich may not have had to think hard about this public political blackmail by a member of the judiciary, but they thought fast. The day after the publication of this graphic indication of the consequences of powerful dissent, the President appeared before the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. In regard to state-business relations, Putin declared, there will be no going back to the past. The tycoons greeted this remark with ‘stormy applause’, as the editors of Communist party proceedings used to say…No one mentioned Khodorkovsky. After the meeting, many businessmen vocally distanced themselves from the President’s humiliated enemy, and lined up to pledge commitment to United Russia. Many others kept quiet.

…We have flattered Putin enough. There is no reason to believe that a corrupt, repressive corporate state will produce significant economic and social improvements for the third of the Russian population that lives in absolute poverty. Political freedom, justice and official accountability are more than just optional decorations for a market economy.

…There might be a public investigation into the ‘apartment bombings’ of 1999, in which 300 Russians were killed in their sleep, to establish whether, as much evidence suggests, the FSB planted them to create a pretext for the Chechen war which made Putin popular. Liberal Duma deputies who proposed such inquiries would not, like Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin, be murdered. The survivors of the bombings would speak publicly about their suspicions; those who have dared to speak would return from political asylum…

Definitely worth a read.

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