Russian media. Anatoly Karlin has opened a website translating stuff from the Russian media into English. It’s intended to counter the notion that Russian media is drearily pro-Putin and show its actual variety.
Direct Line. Putin gave his annual marathon phone-in session a couple of weeks ago. Far too many questions of the nature “Little Father, my roof leaks, please repair it”. Two conclusions, I suppose. One is that Russians are most concerned with mundane issues (a large portion of which seem to involve unresponsive government structures) The other is that, despite the anti-Russia crowd’s conviction that he controls everything, Putin spends a lot of time pushing on ropes. There was a pretty frank explication of disagreements on economic strategy and a respectful exchange with Kudrin. Those who think these things are staged should read the exchange with Aleksey Venediktov who challenged Putin on “Stalinist control methods”. By the way, Venediktov seems to thrive despite the dark premonitions in this New Yorker piece from four years ago. Ah well, another prediction gone bad; never mind, no one remembers, time for another one.
Opposition. An authorised opposition march on Moscow pulled 20K or so and passed off without incident. The anti-Russia mob likes to see the cause of the decline in protests as machinations of the evil government but a poll gives better guidance. Levada (no government stooge) asked its respondents which of 11 opposition leaders they trusted. 65% said “none” (8 points more than a year ago). None of the 11 got better than 3%. Yavlinskiy and Prokhorov warned them months ago that they had to come up with something more than mere opposition. They haven’t.