At Public Books, Masha Gessen examines what she call's Russia's "retrofitted totalitarianism"—that is, a totalitarianism that adapts certain tactics from Soviet times to the Russia of today. An excerpt:
No sooner did the Western media learn to think of Vladimir Putin as an authoritarian ruler than the Russian regime changed again. Since Putin returned to the office of president in March 2012, Russia has experienced a political crackdown, has started a war against its neighbor, and has entered another, far from its borders. In the process, it has become an international pariah and sent its economy into a tailspin. But all of this has served to mobilize the population and make Putin’s grip on power appear firmer than ever.
In other words, Russia is no longer an authoritarian state. It is a state that has a lot of the features of a totalitarian state. But the process we have witnessed over the last three and a half years is unlike anything we have seen before. This was not a process of building a totalitarian state; it was the process of retrofitting one.
Image via Public Books.