My first visit to Moscow in 1991 was a trip into a surreal world. Amid so much strangeness, I was hardly surprised to discover that the Soviet Union’s greatest rock star was, like me, half Korean.
Despite police raids on the homes of protest leaders, a new law raising fines for demonstrators and violence at the last big rally, tens of thousands of Muscovites once again took to the streets to vent their anger with Vladimir Putin.
I had to force myself to watch Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with TV journalist Vladimir Pozner. The sincerity with which Medvedev defends completely cynical decisions doesn’t make him sincere – or the decisions any more defensible.
Vladimir Putin arrived in Berlin an hour late after first visiting Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The symbolism was clear: Angela Merkel, Germany and the West can wait – and not just an hour but two whole weeks.
In March I attended a reception at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Moscow. When a certain, not unknown Russian-American gentleman noticed me, he smiled dryly and exclaimed: “Ah, the anti-Putin blogger!”
Vladimir Putin is not a loved president, he’s a default president. Just because he has managed to check off the boxes “nomination,” “election” and “inauguration,” doesn’t mean he’s home free.