If you recall, the fall of the Soviet Empire heralded a transfer of economic power from a corrupt bureaucracy to a corrupt private oligarchy as the state was divested of its industries. Take Mayor Luzhkov, who owns a media empire. Other members of the nomenklatura readily made the switch from a command to a market economy.

There was a brief spasm of civil freedom under Yeltsin and his impotent government, especially since he would like his legacy to be that of the "Founder of Russian Democracy". But since Putin (ex-KGB) has been thrust into power, Russia has taken a different course. Slashdotters may be familiar with one aspect of the expanded powers of the police (secret and otherwise) -- their intention of monitoring Internet traffic. The Interior Ministry has been taking liberties in Chechnya as well.

Recently, the pro-Putin press began the "rehabilitation" of Josef Stalin, praising him for the industrial strength he imparted to the USSR; politicians have toasted the man as well. (Peculiarly, Russian history is rife with examples of tyrants who did similiar things to strengthen the country. How is Stalin different from Peter the Great or Ivan the Terrible? Perhaps only terror can unite that vast, cold land of 100+ ethnic groups.) This should be seen as a sign of things to come. Russia has seen hundreds of years of nearly uninterrupted absolutism, and unfortunately, I see no prospect of change in the immediate future.

No, I do not see a return of the state censorship apparatus. Nothing so cruelly effective could be formulated in post-Soviet Russia; undoubtedly, what methods are used to control the populace will be comparatively crude.