We are enjoying Robert Coalson’s new gig over at the Huffington Post. This is from the latest:
The problem is not only the crisis, but the fact that the Putin political/economic system in Russia has no flexibility and only a tiny fraction of the country is personally invested in it. And instead of increasing the investment of average people in the stability of the system by, say, making elections fairer and more frequent, the Kremlin is moving in the opposite direction: extending terms for the few officials that are still actually elected, strengthening the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party’s grip on the election process and politics at the regional level, and changing laws to make virtually any expression of discontent a matter of “extremism” or “treason.” Piontkovsky is right when he sees a “bunker” mentality taking hold in Moscow. (Incidentally, Piontkovsky was recently acquitted of “extremism” charges for his analytical writings on Putinism.)
But if criticism becomes treason, then the Kremlin will find its circle of friends getting smaller and smaller.