The Corner

In Russia, a Familiar Pattern

Among the subjects in my Impromptus column today is Russia. I bring up the case of Stanyslav Klykh, a Ukrainian historian and a political prisoner of the Kremlin. Klykh is apparently being tortured to death under psychiatry — which was a common occurrence in the Soviet period.

In my column, I say the following: My critics often tell me, “Russia isn’t the Soviet Union, you know! Quit being stuck in the past.” (It used to be critics on the left who told me this; now it’s critics on the right.) I know that Russia is not the Soviet Union. But I have to ask: Does the Kremlin know it? They often act as if they don’t.

Here in the Corner, I’d like to mention two more cases. Another political prisoner, Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker and writer, has just been transferred to a penal colony, “White Bear,” beyond the Arctic Circle. He is reportedly in failing health (which may go without saying).

Kirill Serebrennikov is luckier. He is a famous stage and film director in Moscow. He is under house arrest — with his bank accounts frozen and his home and car seized.

I ask again: I realize that Russia is not the Soviet Union (thank heaven). But are you sure that Putin & Co. know it?

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