The last decade has brought endless setbacks for Russia’s pro-democracy forces. One after another, the regime claimed new targets in its drive to solidify power: media freedom, electoral competition, judicial independence, regional self-government. It is difficult to name what, if any, victories the opposition has scored against the rising authoritarian tide. Indeed, it seems there have been none – until this week.
On Monday Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party announced its shortlist of candidates for governor of Russia’s western-most region of Kaliningrad (one of the names on this list will be chosen by President Dmitri Medvedev). The list itself does not arouse much interest, except for one thing: it does not include Georgy Boos, the region’s current Putin-appointed United Russia governor.