Bret Stephens writes to Putin in the second person in today’s Wall Street Journal:
Naglost: Your speech in Munich contained a curious broadside against the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which you denounced for “imposing a regime that determines how these states should live and develop.” That may not have been the most eye-catching of your comments, but it was the most revealing. Among its other benign functions, the OSCE bureaucracy monitors elections among its 56 members. That never raised an eyebrow until the OSCE raised a red flag over the Ukrainian election of November 2004, which had been rigged in favor of your preferred candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. The OSCE’s verdict was crucial to having the results overturned and a new election called. You’ve never forgiven it. Since then, the OSCE’s election-monitoring office has come under a relentless barrage of criticism from your foreign ministry and from other former Soviet republics with questionable democratic credentials, all with the view to putting the monitors under your political control. … Naglost: “In the energy sector Russia intends to create uniform market principles and transparent conditions for all,” you said on Saturday. “It is obvious that energy prices must be determined by the market instead of being the subject of political speculation, economic pressure or blackmail.” Perhaps you define the words “market principles,” “transparent” and “blackmail” differently in Russia than we do in the West. In December, the Russian government offered transparently phony environmental reasons — “unauthorized tree felling” — to force Royal Dutch Shell to relinquish control of its $20 billion Sakhalin-2 oil-and-gas project. In January, state-owned Gazprom used the threat of supply disruptions to gain control over Belarus’s gas-pipeline network. This month, state prosecutors filed new charges against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky that will keep him in a Siberian gulag past the 2008 elections. Could you tell us just what might be in store for March?