It was a very strange feeling to find out that Mikhail Khodorkovsky had landed in Berlin. I’d moved to the German capital in part to kick the adrenaline addiction of reporting from Russia. I was tired of the news always coming to me.
“I’m trying to understand: is this a demonstration of victory or defeat?” Alexei Navalny asked. The crowd gave him a resounding answer. In recent years, the words “Russian opposition leader” connoted “loser.” No longer.
I’ll make a confession: the anti-government rallies that broke out in Moscow a year ago really annoyed me. Like Vladimir Putin, I had completely different plans than to worry about protesting middle-class Muscovites.
Russian nationalists’ embrace of Nazi ideology might seem especially masochistic given Hitler’s plans to enslave and butcher his eastern neighbors. But on the whole, Russians and Germans have gotten along just fine over the past 1,000 years.
Vladimir Putin’s meeting with journalist Masha Gessen reveals the advanced stage of his megalomania. He is like the magician who bungles a trick and then asks his audience defiantly: “What? You really thought I was cutting the lady in half?”
The judiciary is the Putin system’s last line of defense. The president stands fast behind the fairy tale of Russia’s impartial, independent courts. Mumbling judges, bumbling prosecutors and crumbling testimonies are the props for due process.
When a friend had to register her car, I took pity on her and agreed to tag along. Besides providing moral support, I hoped to gain insight into Russia’s most despised government agency: the traffic police. It was a futile undertaking.
Robert Shlegel’s peers contrast Russia’s archaic political system with advanced western democracies. Shlegel compares it to the North Korean-style dictatorship he witnessed growing up in Turkmenistan.