It seems we cover our pal Vlad an inordinate amount of time. But why not? He’s not only a Bond villain, but highly entertaining as only a true Autocrat of all The Russias can be. As per his attitude towards democracy? Meh.
The latest incarnation of the slow slide to modern czarist rule is a new law to be signed by Putin that criminalizes “insults” to the state. By empirical extension that also means insults to Vlad, his cronies, and, for good retro measure, Nikolai Yezhov and Albert Anastasia.
It also has some nice parts about blocking “fake news.” If you publish said fakery online you will have one day after notification by the regime to remove it. If you don’t the authorities will do it for you and possibly suspend your online privileges. Even the Communist rump in the Duma took semi-umbrage to that.
Gone are the heady days when rebel Western hero Boris Yeltsin drunkenly cavorted with Bill Clinton on stage like a badly trained bear, much to the chortling of the world. The former Sovs were legitimately embarrassed by such nekulturny buffoonery, and when Yeltsin took Putin out of relative St. Petersburg obscurity and tapped him as successor the power swung hard the other way.
Yup. No one accuses Vlad of being a laugh riot.
This is the salami strategy when it comes to the erosion of any potential Russian democratic future. Chip away little by little at what’s left of individual political liberty until you wake up one morning and see it has all been removed so gradually you hardly noticed.
It is happening there. Let’s hope future generations of Americans don’t have to remember when it began to happen here.