Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Anna Politkovskaya

Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist murdered last week, was buried today in Moscow.

Her gangland-style execution is a chilling reminder of the major problems still facing Russian society--including, as people like David Satter and Lawrence Uzzell have been reminding us, the continuing moral crisis. Government cannot legislate morality, and civil society cannot exist unless there are sufficient bonds of trust.

Russia's economy is improving--but increased cash flow alone does not a healthy society make.

Politkovskaya was a critic, a muckracker in the best old Mencken tradition (but in a Russian style), and as much as proponents of strong executive power either in Moscow or in Washington don't like them, they are part and parcel of what makes an open society. President Putin didn't have to like her commentary or her exposes--but he should recognize that her murder is the latest reminder that corruption continues to infect and debilitate Russian society--and that having unchecked sources of power, whether in Chechnya, the business community or the security services doesn't work to achieve his own stated vision of a prosperous and stable Russia.

Nick, did you see the note from Denis Maslov of the Eurasia Group--they are predicting an increased risk for political violence in Russia in the aftermath of Politkovskaya's murder.
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