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Rule of Law vs. the Mafia Petrostate

The Boston Globe makes it clear that the coexistence of regular political murders and the regularity of a rule of law state is not possible.

Markelov had received death threats because of his efforts to keep the murderer of the strangled Chechen woman in prison. In the past, he had defended the assassinated reporter Anna Politkovskaya as well as labor unions, human rights groups, and other journalists. He knew his life was at risk because of his legal work, as are the lives of many of the most admirable people in Russia – the lawyers, reporters, environmentalists, and human rights defenders who try to make the Kremlin live up to its claim of presiding over a law-based democratic state.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has spoken of his determination to improve Russia’s attractiveness to investors, both foreign and domestic, by strengthening the rule of law. But as long as powerful, hidden bosses can have people like Markelov, Baburova, or Politkovskaya murdered with impunity, Russia will deserve its reputation as a Mafia petrostate crouching behind a Potemkin democracy.