Executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Rot was refused a Russia visa, thus Russian authorities prevented him from visiting press conference in Moscow. It was first time since USSR times that HRW representative was not allowed entry into Russia, according to Mr Rot.
There are clear signs that Russia is getting increasingly authoritarian. The pressure on NGOs, opposition and other dissent has been mounting in the past 8 years. I wonder where it will end. The trouble is that things have been deteriorating all the while when Putin has been in power and he does not seem to be going away. This means that Russia’s drift towards dictatorship will most naturally continue in the next few years, so what we have in Russia now is not yet the end, there is still a lot of room for going bad.
My guess is that after presidential elections 2 March things will get worse, rather than better. Putin’s successor Medvedev will be nominal figure with Putin being the PM. After Putin steps down the public dissent is bound to show up, but Putin PM will crack down on it. Putin exhausted his reformist drive in his first term and so his subsequent leadership is likely to produce policies of replacing reforms with administrative acts. The example was already shown end of the last year and beginning this year when Russian government ordered to fix food prices. It didn’t really fix them, still my argument stays that Russian government will become less reformist and more inclined to use administrative measures for economic and social life. This in turn will contribute to Russia’s further slide into dictatorship.