The Post vs. The Times

It’s unusual to read an article bullish on Russia in a conservative US newspaper. No, I don’t think Putin is to Khodorkovsky what Theodore Roosevelt was to J.P. Morgan. Too much wishful thinking in this picture. Still, John B. Roberts has put some anesthetic on my sore nerves.

The Washington Post, on the contrary, cares not a bit about my peace of mind and runs an editorial titled Who Lost Russia?

When authorities denied bail to oil billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, barred reporters and parliamentarians from his hearing and kept two of his American lawyers from even entering the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin was doing more than trampling on the rule of law.

It all sounds like Putin personally ordered the police ministry to deny Russian visas to the two American lawyers. The way I see it, the US lawyers would not be of any use to Khodorkovsky anyway without first passing a bar exam in Russia or at least some knowledge of Russian law, which I doubt they have. Why would they? So they decided to stay put. If legal skills were so easily transferable between countries, the US would be flooded with foreign lawyers; per hour rates would drop to the pleasure of the public and dismay of the ABA.

On the other hand, WaPo urges Bush to put pressure on his friend Vlad to remind him that the US believes civil liberties are a serious business — which is just the right thing to do. But in doing that, it is not necessary — not even desirable — to quote Michael McFaul, whose claim to fame rests primarily on his silly attempt to have the eXile editors (buffoons as they pretend to be) struck from Johnson’s mailing list on Russian events. See, for instance, Mark Ames’ loving review of McFaul’s book.

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