David Remnick on the current state of Russian politics and the head of the tiny anti-Putin movement, former chess champion Garry Kasparov.
In recent years, Putin has insured that nearly all power in Russia is Presidential. The legislature, the State Duma, is only marginally more independent than the Supreme Soviet was under Leonid Brezhnev. The governors of Russia’s more than eighty regions are no longer elected, as they were under Yeltsin; since a Presidential decree in 2004, they have all been appointed by the Kremlin. Putin even appoints the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The federal television networks, by far the main instrument of news and information in Russia, are neo-Soviet in their absolute obeisance to Kremlin power.
There’s also an audio interview of Kasparov by Remnick.
Kremlin Inc. is from the New Yorker a few weeks ago, but it’s still very worth reading. The article details the current political situation in Russia and how in many ways, the press, business, and the political process are less free and open than under the Soviet regime. “‘I don’t know of a single case in the past six years when the Duma voted against any Presidential initiative,’ Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the last liberal legislators willing to speak critically and publicly, told me. ‘I also don’t know of any case where the Duma adopted an initiative that came from the regions. One man makes all the rules in Russia now, and the Duma has become like a new Supreme Soviet.’”