The Washington Post's coverage of Russia in February hasn't recovered from its January slump: the month was short and the events in North Africa and the Middle East have sucked up all the attention.
Besides, Kathy Lally went MIA. Her only (Feb. 8) article described a strange case of a British reporter, Luke Harding, who wasn't allowed to enter Russia with a valid visa. Lally used the occasion to compile a list of foreign journalists whose entrance has also been denied — allegedly for their reporting critical to the Kremlin. Incidentally, Harding was back in Moscow in a week, but Lally apparently didn't find this fact worth of reporting.
In Lally's absence, Will Englund stepped in and didn't disappoint. During his trip to Kamchatka, he filed two reports. In the first, on Feb.2, Englund told a story about ridiculous attempt, by the office of the Kamchatka's governor, Alexei Kuzmitsky, to censor a theatrical performance at the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city theater. On Feb. 12, Englund introduced us to an Arkadi Gontmakher, an American businessman of Ukrainian decent, who found himself in legal troubles when running a crab business in Kamchatka. After having spent three years in jail and being eventually acquitted by a jury, Gontmakher still couldn't leave Russia for his home in Seattle. Then, all of sudden, Gontmakher was allowed to return to the United States. In contrast to Lally, Englund reasoned that this news deserved a follow-up.
Back in Moscow, Englund wrote (on Feb. 14) a short piece about Natalya Vasilieva's now-famous claim that her boss, Judge Viktor Danilkin, wasn't the real author of the verdict that Danilkin issued in the Khodorkovsky–Lebedev case. Englund has wrapped up the month by attending an exhibition featuring lives and achievements of the American President Abraham Lincoln and the Russian Czar Alexander II.
As the Post's regulars have been busy lambasting Middle East tyrants, the op-ed pages turned all-Russian. On Feb. 7, Carnegie Moscow Center's Masha Lipman — in her trademark habit of fighting windmills that exist only in her imagination – argued that attempts to move Vladimir Lenin's body from the Mausoleum in Red Square won't achieve what Russia needs, in Lipman's not so humble opinion, the most: to cut its ties with the Soviet past. (Lipman provides no practical clues as to how a country can "cut ties" with its past, whether Soviet or not.)
And then, on Feb. 20, the Post's space was offered to co-chairs of the newly-minted (and still unregistered) People's Freedom Party: Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Milov, Boris Nemtsov, and Vladimir Ryzhkov. If you read, back in June 2009, the opus penned by the four so-called Russia's limousine liberals, you can safely skip the one written by Kasyanov & Co.: the same hapless whining that the Western leaders' cozy relations with the Kremlin prevent the "united liberals" from advancing "freedom and normal democratic process" in Russia. Yet, one could expect more intellectual vigor from the people claiming, as Kasyanov & Co. are, that their People's Freedom Party is the “only viable alternative to the current regime.” Well, I guess, if this is the only viable alternative, then the "current regime" has nothing to worry about.