Over at reason.tv I've posted a fantastic interview with chess master and Putin-hater Garry Kasparov from last week's Real Time with Bill Maher. Kasparov questions Putin's approval ratings, takes a few well-deserved shots at President Bush's ability to see into ex-KGB agents' souls, and assesses the impact of high oil prices on Russian democracy.
Also, check out Kasparov's recent Wall Street Journal article on "Don Putin" (that's a mafia reference, not Mr. Putin's estranged, Roger Clinton-like brother). A sample:
After years of showing no respect for the law in Russia, with no resulting consequences from abroad, it should not come as a surprise that Mr. Putin's attitude extends to international relations as well. The man accused of the Litvinenko murder, Andrei Lugovoi, signs autographs and enjoys the support of the Russian media, which says and does nothing without Kremlin approval. For seven years the West has tried to change the Kremlin with kind words and compliance. It apparently believed that it would be able to integrate Mr. Putin and his gang into the Western system of trade and diplomacy.
Instead, the opposite has happened–the mafia corrupts everything it touches. Bartering in human rights begins to appear acceptable. The Kremlin is not changing its standards: It is imposing them on the outside world. It receives the stamp of legitimacy from Western leaders and businesses but makes those same leaders and businesses complicit in its crimes.
Whole article here.