If asked to name the moment when hopes for post-Soviet Russian democracy died, the typical Western observer will usually point to something that occurred under Vladimir Putin’s tenure. He might single out the 2003 arrest and imprisonment of anti-Putin oil-and-gas magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky on trumped-up charges, a punishment meant as a warning to the rest of Russia’s oligarch class not to get involved in opposition politics. Or he might point to one of the many government raids on or seizures of various independent media outlets during Putin’s first term as president. He might even choose the strange series of apartment …
This article appears as “Reading Russia’s Tragic Spirit” in the November 16, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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