Almost uniformly, the western think tankers and media types who comment on Russia purport to be strongly concerned with freedom. After all, the central tenet of their anger with the country’s rulers is what they perceive as a lack of democracy. The usual charge goes something like this. Putin is a “dictator” who is suppressing the liberty loving Russian people and crippling their hopes and dreams.

This hypothesis assumes that Russians are just punching in the clock until a political revolution arrives, which will allow them to become more like Americans. Of course, for western opinion formers, subscribing to their values is as vital as promoting Communism was to idealistic activists in the early days of the USSR. Yet, just as the Soviets never achieved “perfect communism,” these analysts probably won’t see Russians embrace the American way in their lifetimes.

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