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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World View

The most recent defining act of Russia's new president, Vladimir Putin, is more Soviet than democratic. In an apparent effort to intimidate the press, Mr. Putin has engaged in police-state tactics so crude that even his severest critics seem stunned. For those who wonder whether Mr. Putin's Russia will move toward joining civilized Europe, and whether it will nurture the legal protections that could attract investment and encourage prosperity, the latest news is ominous. ?

Mr. Gusinsky heads a media company that owns the only Russian television network not under Kremlin control. The company also owns a radio station and publishes a daily newspaper and a weekly magazine (the last in partnership with Newsweek, which is owned by The Washington Post Co.). All of these properties have challenged official orthodoxy by reporting on official corruption and on Mr. Putin's savage war in Chechnya. The arrest will be seen, and no doubt was intended, as an attempt to silence President Putin's critics. ?

The arrest is a slap at President Clinton, who recently in Moscow urged Mr. Putin to respect freedom of the press and who chose to speak on Mr. Gusinsky's radio station. With how much spine will Mr. Clinton and other Western leaders who have been even more eager to embrace Mr. Putin, such as Britain's TonyBlair, now respond? Many Russians will be watching.

f June 15