I wanted to include an important article from csmonitor.com, entitled "Putin's Russia: better and worse".
Here's an excerpt:
Hearing Yevgeny Butovsky and Antonina Vallik describe the state of their nation, one would think they live in two different countries. In fact, they share a home.
"We are eating our future, and we are being too quiet about it," complains Mr. Butovsky, a successful private farm manager increasingly concerned by the autocratic political system built since President Vladimir Putin was elected in 2000.
But for his homemaker wife, Ms. Vallik, those years have yielded a rise in living standards that has enabled her to widen the scope of her passion - taking in homeless pets. "Any regime is OK for me," she says.
They're not the only ones having this discussion. The debate is rising in Russia, and around the world, over what kind of a state Putin has built, whether it's bearable for its population, and if it is safe to invest in, or be friends with. A recent spate of apparently political killings that some have blamed on the Kremlin - the victims include ex-KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko and investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya - imparts urgency to these questions.
Have a look.
You may also be interested in a related article, "Kremlin intrigue feeds theories on poisoned-spy case", which asks, "Who was behind ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko's highly public demise?".