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Anyone showing independence of the mind, initiative, or individual striving, was seen as suspicious and politically unreliable.

Photograph by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images.

But over the decades, the overwhelming majority accepted their powerlessness vis-à-vis the state as a fact of life; those defying the oppression and showing any independence were regarded suspicious troublemakers and a threat to everyday life.

As I wrote in an earlier post, Putin’s Russia is not the Soviet Union.

The Church has been Putin’s loyal and reliable partner in the prosecution of Pussy Riot, as well as in his more general effort to consolidate his rule.

The latter goal requires that non-conformist Russians be neutralized and alienated just as they are increasingly anxious to make a difference.