Lessons From Putin’s Russia for Living in Trump’s America

‘That was the genius of the system. It didn’t need a giant security apparatus. It needed only you, the citizen, to be implicated just enough to have something to lose but not desperate enough that you’d be tempted to lose it. In 2011, reform-minded Russians faced this dilemma head-on, realized no one was ready to actually storm the Kremlin or even protect the opposition leader from unlawful arrest, and backed down — and were legislatively and legally beaten into submission. That process continues to this day, aided by Russia’s ever-shrinking civic life. Now people may get arrested for single-man pickets where, five years ago, 100,000-person marches were fine. The new restrictive laws — such as the “gay propaganda” one, or the notorious Article 282 that reinterprets hate speech as anything anyone can take offense at — are shoddily written and full of holes on purpose; their true message is that anyone can be found guilty at any time.’