Subtlety, Brilliance Not Enough to Save Russian Civil Society

This bit about Barack Obama’s limited reach in Russia comes from Masha Lipman:

The Kremlin keeps a firm grip on societal forces: Its concept of civil society implies loyalty to the state and rules out genuine autonomy. Those who dare defy the Kremlin vision may be tolerated, but they are consistently marginalized. Assistance to such groups from abroad is treated with high suspicion. Moreover, the West, and the U.S. in particular, are viewed as a threatening force seeking to do harm to Russia.

This dramatically hampers Russian development and leaves Russia still farther behind the developed nations. A summit with Obama, and his attempt to reach out to the Russian people, no matter how brilliant or subtle, can hardly change this state of affairs. It is up to the Russian people to change it, but they will have to overcome their apathy and fragmentation. “Every country charts its own course,” Obama said in his address to the students of the New Economic School. Russia is no exception.