“At that time in Russia, behind the Iron Curtain, we had only heard of democracy,” said Mr. Veretelny, 54, who was at the time supporting himself as a driver. “We really believed the magical, beautiful word democracy. But a lot of things turned out not exactly the way we expected. We began to ask ourselves what we spilled our blood for.”
In the decade that followed, chaotic social and economic changes as well as lurching attempts at reform gave democracy a bad name. Many people welcomed the stability that Mr. Putin brought, even at the cost of some democratic freedoms.
Mr. Veretelny is just one voice among 140 million Russians, and while his disillusionment is widely shared, many people appear to accept Mr. Putin’s limits on political competition, civil society and the news media. An election that is set for early next year is unlikely to change the course of the country.
I wonder if the Third Reich, which killed far fewer people than Stalin, has similar sympathizers (I’m pretty sure such a celebration would be illegal in Germany).