There is a large segment of Russian society that is moving in a liberalizing direction, many Orthodox. These people exist. They are a real force. And they are electorally outmatched, now and into the future.
This is a dangerous gamble. Poor but thriving Estonia may not be thriving much longer, and may not have enough to help rich but struggling Greece.
After a decade of hard work, Putin is finally poised to reclaim the Russian Empire he believes should exist of right.
Presumably if the government gave out more free money, economically productive people would stick around?
Putin’s move gives Russia yet another example to offer to recalcitrant former vassal states that Russia will always win these battles, and America is weak and timid.
This is a moving piece, longer than we normally display here. It tells a story of Belarus from within Belarus, a story of fractured dreams and hope. We commend it to you.
What he is really doing is telling his slowly-dying country that it remains a great power and demonstrating to wavering neighbors such as Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Georgia that when Russia speaks, the world listens.
The problem for the West’s allies is that the PRISM program sounds almost exactly like NKVD/KGB operations, from secret wiretaps to anonymous government officials analyzing reams of data to identify suspects behind black, closed doors.
Things will smooth over between Russia and Azerbaijan soon, as the two have enjoyed a peaceful but tense relationship during the decades since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Moldovans are fighting over the poorest country in Europe. Former allies have turned on each other and the future of European integration — and more importantly, civil society and government harmony — in Moldova is now in doubt.