My friend Paul Robinson attended the reburial ceremony for White Russian heroes Ivan Alexandrovich Il’in and Anton Denikin recently and writes about it in the new Spectator. In the new Russia this represents, apparently the Russian press, Putin and all, compares favorably to, say, the New York Times:
My journalist friend laughs at the suggestion that Putin has suppressed all independent political thought. He should know; he has twice been sacked from newspapers for writing pro-Putin articles. The problem, he tells me, is that Westerners listen too much to the likes of the former oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Incidentally, he adds, Berezovsky still owns a newspaper in Russia — so much for there being no anti-Putin voices. In fact, my friend suggests, there may even be more freedom of expression in Russia than in the West, because there are fewer social and legal constraints on ‘politically incorrect’ and extremist points of view. If you want to be racist, sexist or anything else-ist, you’ll find it easier to get a publisher in Moscow than in London or New York.
Reading Paul’s article one gets the impression that Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism is a different sort than the one we generally suppose it to be. One might even think it preferable to the various other strains of authoritarianism prevalent around the world today.