At least in Brezhnev’s time you knew where you stood

At least in Brezhnev’s time you knew where you stood. We had no illusions. Public life was black and white. Censorship was overwhelming. Journalists wrote under instruction and according to the social and political orders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Now, in the new Russia of sushi bars and oligarchs, the situation is more shameful and rotten than it was then. The attempted assassination of Alexander Litvinenko might not be all that it seems, and yet it does fit a pattern. It follows only a few weeks after the murder of my good friend, the campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya. There have since been other, less publicised, cases. Another investigative reporter, Fatima Tlisova, was poisoned two weeks ago in north Caucasus; on 18 November the former head of security in Chechnya, who had fallen out with the region’s prime minister, was gunned down in the centre of Moscow in broad daylight by Chechen and Russian police. And then this . . . the mysterious poisoning of Litvinenko (in a sushi restaurant, naturally), but this time in the centre of Russia’s second city, London.

more from The New Statesman here.