Russia’s Choice
Will it establish democracy at last or let Vladimir Putin rule for life?

(Roman Genn)


On the surface, Moscow has never looked more prosperous. High-end restaurants are full. Cyclists, strollers, and rollerbladers crowd Gorky Park. Newly built skyscrapers give the city a modern skyline, and streets are clogged with late-model Western cars. But there is a growing sense of unease. Against the background of plummeting oil prices and vast sums of money being urgently sent abroad, the capital is now the scene of feverish political activity. For the first time, Vladimir Putin’s system of one-man rule appears unstable. No one knows whether it can survive or, if it doesn’t, what will replace it.

After years when opposition demonstrations typically attracted no more than a few hundred, Moscow since December has witnessed at least six major demonstrations that have drawn crowds estimated at 50,000 to 100,000. Nothing like this has happened in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. The protesters openly refer to Putin as a “thief,” an explosive charge in a society where Putin is suspected of massive corruption but the accusation is typically not made publicly.


July 30, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, No. 14

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Vincent J. Cannato reviews Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, by Jay Cost.
  • Michael Rubin reviews The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran, by David Crist.
  • Ryan T. Anderson reviews Debating Same-Sex Marriage, by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher.
  • Andrew Stuttaford reviews The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins.
  • Diane Scharper reviews Pity the Beautiful: Poems, by Dana Gioia.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Ted.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
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Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .