MOSCOW - The situation in Russia is not just bad, but downright ugly. The main reason for the poor state of the Russian economy is the lack of an effective system for protecting property rights. The gradual dismantling of state institutions led first to a decline in investments, then to a sharp drop beginning in 2013, and finally to massive capital flight, with economic growth slowing to a halt by mid-2014.
The overwhelming majority of eastern Ukrainians currently trapped in brutal winter conditions between separatist thugs and the Ukrainian army aren't Ku Klux Klan members, or fat cat bigots who delight in oppressing their ethnic Ukrainian neighbors. They are coal miners and steelworkers and children and pensioners. They are people who've watched their lives be shelled into oblivion by both Kiev's army and paramilitary brigades and Putin's warlords, and who are now isolated in what Amnesty and the UN describe as an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Painting them as a bunch of backward anti-Western hicks is neither progressive, nor tolerant, nor liberal, nor accurate.