American reportage on Russia generally obsesses about the Kremlin and the leader, Vladimir Putin. Putin dominates U.S. coverage of Russia far more than he dominates Russia.
The answer to the question of todayâ€™s talk, â€œRussia: toward democracy or dictatorship?â€ is â€œneither.â€ Russia is not a democracy, and it is not a dictatorship. Russia, like most countries of the world, has a ramshackle authoritarian system with some democratic trappings (some of which are meaningful). Russia is not in transition to or from anything. Russia is what it is.