The brilliant Vladimir Kara-Murza reports:
If one were to name a particular date when Russia’s nascent democracy succumbed to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime, April 14, 2001 would be a fairly good contender. Ten years ago the Russian government, using the state-owned energy giant Gazprom as its proxy, seized control of NTV—the country’s largest and most popular independent television channel. There were, of course, other significant dates: June 22, 2003 (the government-ordered shutdown of TVS, Russia’s last independent television channel), October 25, 2003 (the arrest of oil tycoon and opposition supporter Mikhail Khodorkovsky), December 7, 2003 (the expulsion of pro-democracy parties from Parliament in heavily manipulated elections), December 12, 2004 (the abolition of direct gubernatorial elections—ironically, signed into law by Mr. Putin on Constitution Day). But it was the takeover of NTV that was, in many ways, the point of no return.
Former NTV pundit Yevgeny Kiselyov, writing in the Moscow Times:
Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and this is a good time to look at the lessons we learned from it.
I recall how I walked into work one day about six weeks after the Berlin Wall fell. A co-worker who was always joking around called out to me as I entered the room, “Have you heard the latest news? There was a revolution in Romania.” “Stop trying to play me for a fool,” I snapped back. “I was just in Romania, and there is no way a revolution could take hold there.” My colleague was offended. “I’m serious,” he said. “They really had a revolution. The army switched over to the demonstrators, and Ceausescu fled Bucharest on Dec. 22.”
That left me speechless.
Top Russian pundit Yevgeny Kiselyov, writing in the Moscow Times:
Russians love to celebrate anniversaries, especially “jubilee anniversaries” — that is, those that are marked by round numbers (10 years, 20 years, 30 years, etc.)
But there is one 10-year anniversary on Sunday that leaves little room for celebration. On Aug. 9, 1999, then-President Boris Yeltsin, who at that point was physically exhausted, weak and easily manipulated, made what was probably the greatest mistake of his political career: He named a new government led by the little-known Vladimir Putin.
Russian pundit Yevgeny Kiselyov, writing in the Moscow Times:
After British writer H.G. Wells met Vladimir Lenin in the Kremlin in 1920, he described the visit in his book “Russia in the Shadows.” Wells referred to Lenin as “the Kremlin dreamer” after listening to Lenin’s utopian plans for rapidly developing a country in ruins after the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war.
Wells returned to the Soviet Union in 1934 to meet with Lenin’s successor, Josef Stalin. Although Wells acknowledged that some of Lenin’s industrial plans had indeed been realized, he understood that they were achieved at a tremendous human cost through Stalin’s brutal tyranny that included the gulag and forced labor. In the end, Wells was convinced that Stalin was no better than Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini and that the West should never align itself with the Soviet Union.