Today's Boston Globe ideas section features an excellent Masha Gessen article on the decline of freedom in Russia. An excerpt:
The message of these two verdicts is that, in an important sense, we have returned to the late Soviet period, the Brezhnev era. At that point, Soviet terror was not total: Many people read and distributed samizdat publications, for example, and many more listened to "Voice of America" and other foreign broadcasters that used shortwave frequencies to get information to the Soviet people. But every once in a while, someone was imprisoned for one of these transgressions. The late-Soviet regime was far more economical than the Stalin regime: Its leaders seemed to understand that, to keep the country in line, they didn't need to imprison tens of millions of people. They just needed frequently to punish a few people at random.