When It Seems Like the Bad Old Days, Maybe It Is

Breaking news in Russia that seems to tell us a lot — none of it positive — about Vladimir Putin’s commitment to democratic values and the rule of law. This exerpt is part of a long Associated Press report Saturday:

Russian authorities charged the country’s wealthiest man and the chief of its largest oil producer with fraud and tax evasion yesterday, the culmination of a sweeping investigation decried by many leading business and political leaders as Kremlin-orchestrated and politically motivated.

Shortly before dawn, Russian special forces in black uniforms stormed Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s private jet moments after it landed in Siberia, shouting, ‘FSB, put your weapons down or we’ll shoot.’

FSB is the abbreviation for the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB….

Khodorkovsky’s arrest sent shudders through Russia’s business community and renewed troubling questions about the Kremlin’s commitment to a rule-of-law approach to governance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly promised Russians that he would steer the country toward democracy and foster conditions for its growth as a free-market economy. But the four-month investigation into Khodorkovsky’s Yukos Oil has been widely viewed as the Kremlin’s ham-handed way of reining in Khodorkovsky’s political activities…”

There is a lot more, and it is worth reading.

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