As I pointed out on numerous occasions, the Washington Post's coverage of Russia normally picks up when Russia is struck by natural or man-made disasters. Those being absent in March, the coverage was low in volume; yet — due perhaps to the lack of an overriding theme — diverse, informative and even entertaining.
The coverage began with a March 1 piece by Katrina vanden Heuvel celebrating Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th anniversary. One could agree or disagree with vanden Heuvel's description of Gorbachev as potentially "the greatest reformer in… [Russia's]… tormented history", but it's difficult to accept her point of view that "…the parliamentary and presidential elections… [Gorbachev]…introduced from 1989-91…remain Russia's freest and fairest to this day." Everyone with a first-hand memory of both events remembers that the elections to the Congress of People's Deputies were a Communist Party's orgy. As far as Gorbachev's presidential bid is concerned, he wasn't elected by the citizens. Instead, he was voted into presidential office — unopposed! – by the Congress Deputies.
On March 8, Kathy Lally set out to prove that Russia was being engulfed by a "new wave of emigration," with professional Russians fleeing "an authoritarian system" and "dead-ending career opportunities." (As a proof of the trend, Lally quotes a "political analyst" as saying: "Everyone is asking me if it's time to leave." Wow! What a jewel of evidence!) To show a human face of the new "brain drain", Lally features a Artyom Borychev who is moving to Bali, Indonesia "for an administrative job at a Russian-run surfing school." To be sure, a loss of even a single gifted surfer is a tragedy for the country; yet, the Artyom Borychev case is hardly the one for which the term "brain drain" was invented.
On March 20, Lally reported from Grozny, going to great length to show her disdain for Chechnya's "roughshod leader", Ramzan Kadyrov. She continued, on March 29, writing about the differences between the United States and Russia over strategies to fight Afghanistan's opium trade. Lally's piece-of-the-month came the next day and was devoted to the performance of the American Ballet Theatre in Moscow.
Will Englund's two articles, on March 9 and March 10, covered the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Moscow. Biden's trip was also the subject of the only Russia-related Post's editorial, on March 13, which praised Biden for criticizing Russia — yawn — for its alleged human rights violations and rampant corruption. In another March 10 piece, Englund decided to take a hard look at the increasing price of Russian oil. First, he repeated the nonsense of his Post colleague, Anne Applebaum, who claimed, back in January, that Russia's "bad behavior" correlates with rising oil prices. Englund then proceeded with a long sermon on the danger of high oil prices to Russia's long-term economic health. (A Russian would describe Englund as "breaking through an open door.")
On March 21, Craig Whitlock discussed the delicate status of negotiations between Russia, on the one hand, and the U.S. and NATO, on the other, over the future of anti-ballistic missile defense in Europe.