Gone were the days of Gorbachev, when—at least temporarily—public opinion mattered, elections were at least “quasi-democratic,” and the press could hold officials accountable. “Vladimir Putin still calls the shots,” wrote Percy and Mitchell as Russians went to the polls last March. “And if all goes to his plan, by today he will no longer have to worry about public opinion.”

Ann Cooper teaches at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. She has worked as a reporter for newspapers, magazines, and National Public Radio, and was the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.