But, he added, the political self-interest of insiders like Mr. Mironov carries its own subtle threat to the system. Every time a prominent figure breaks ranks, as in the brief show of defiance after the October elections, it carves out a little more freedom.
“People begin to think they can speak out,” he said. “This fear lives and lives in the kitchens, and then someone speaks out,” criticizing United Russia or Moscow’s powerful mayor, “and then people begin to understand, ‘Look, they’re not in jail.’ That’s how all these things begin to soften, these structures, these rigid structures.
“This is good for Russia,” he said. “If we can’t get it from normal sources, let it be from this.”
Now that is just sad, very sad.