What I’m Reading on Sunday

In an attempt to get 2011 off to a good start with more active personal blogging, I thought I would share a few links of articles that I’m reading today.  If you happen to be one of the handful of people out there still looking for Russia-related news while the rest of the country is on a holiday (apparently no news happens when there is no journalist on the ground to report it), this is what I’ve got.

Opinions on the Khodorkovsky verdict and harsh sentence continue to proliferate – which makes me wonder what would be happening if the Kremlin had had the naglost to actually allow the decision to happen before the holidays instead of delaying it to land around New Year’s Eve.  Times business columnist Joe Nocera has an excellent piece which sees a government effort to “create the illusion of fairness” in the trial, but “no one was fooled.”  My friend David Satter has a good article in The Daily Beast, which takes a look specifically at the issue of the funding of political parties.  When prominent opposition leaders including Boris Nemtsov staged a protest related to the trial, they were jailed for a 15-day term to miss the holidays.  It’s funny that in the court hearing for a guy who was arrested for protesting a show trial, the judge spends four hours discussing Nemtsov’s alleged offense of “disobedience toward police” when he was leaving the rally with his family on his way to a New Year’s party.  Way to prove a point.

Evgeny Morozov, who is quickly becoming a well regarded voice on social media and geopolitics, has an article in The New York Post (strange, I know) which picks apart the assumption that freedom of information translates into free people.  Morozov writes, “Sadly,the vast majority of those oppressed by authoritarianism havepragmatically reasoned that their iPads would be far better employed toplay Angry Birds or watch Lady Gaga videos than to download reports fromAmnesty International or edit Wikipedia entry on “human rights.”

To contrast with a slightly more sunny, but not much, vision ofpolitical social media, read Clay Shirkey’s latest contribution to Foreign Affairs.

Remember last year’s surprise New Year’s Eve cartoon of Putin and Medvedev singing and dancing?  They pulled out the same lame exercise again this year, even including a salacious line about redhead spy Anna Chapman (who’s been very busy in her new roleas a government-operated celebrity).  This goes without saying, butPutin’s total intolerance for humor and political satire truly speaks volumes about the confidence of his character.

So it’s a bit of a slow news weekend – we’ll see what the next week of vacation brings us.  Happy 2011 to everybody, and thanks for reading.