Ever since Vladimir Putin and the former KGB elite took full control of Russia, its liberal forces have been kept out of the Duma, as well as the legislative bodies of the country’s 85 federal subjects. Yabloko, PARNAS and other opposition forces are completely sidelined. Even their sympathizers are outnumbered by the Russian security forces—including the mega-riot-police called the National Guard. The strangled liberal forces no longer have even theoretical opportunities to exercise tangible influence over Russia’s political, economic and social life. Nevertheless, the few remaining domestic political opponents, however unrepresented and “unpopular”, especially those who occasionally make headlines in the Western media by exposing the corruption of (and crimes committed by) Vladimir Putin’s regime, seem to continue to irritate Russia’s masters—and are therefore severely punished.