Mark McDonald of Knight Ridder provides an unhappy assessment:
"We're in a downward spiral, and it's a tragedy," said Alexei Kondaurov, a former KGB general who's now a millionaire businessman and an opposition member of the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament. "I have no illusions about who rules Russia and what goes on here. All my forecasts are negative."(I can't believe I just quoted both a former KGB general and the Center for Defense Information -- in both cases, probably a first for me.)
Nikolai Zlobin, an analyst with the Center for Defense Information, a global-security research center based in Washington, thinks "the United States no longer regards Russia as a democratic country ... and Putin is no longer perceived as a democrat in the Western sense of the word."