As Dmitry Gudkov is learning (or relearning) this week, it is tough being a Putin critic. While on a panel co-hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative and Freedom House, he accused the Kremlin of initiating baseless investigations against opposition activists such as anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and New Left leader Sergei Udaltsov. Gudkov, who was one of the few members of the Duma closely affiliated with Russia’s post-2011 protest movement, has been accused of treason, expelled from his party faction, and likely will be ousted from the Duma in a move that many argue demonstrate how little actual “opposing” Russia’s opposition parties do.
If people know anything about the Russian economy, they may be aware of its corruption problems, an issue that permeates every layer of its society. They might have learned (or are old enough to remember) Russia’s economic upheaval during the 1990s – hyperinflation, massive recession, insider privatization – that resulted from their attempted transition from a centrally planned to a free market economy. However, if there is one thing most everyone knows about the Russian economy, is that it is fueled by oil. Continue Reading