Bureaucracies will grasp at anything, won't they?


It's undoubtedly true that the political and economic system in Russia has changed, and changed for the better, over the past 50 years. Whatever the downsides of Putinism they're as nothing to the problems with Stalinism. However, the change might not be quite as deep as perhaps we'd all like. Another way of making much the same point is that bureaucracies have their memories too, and they'd often like things to go back to when they had more power:

Russian officials are considering reintroducing Soviet-style exit visas, a senior MP said on Friday, in a move that would severely restrict Russian’s rights to travel abroad for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union. Vadim Solovyov, the deputy chairman of the constitutional law and state building committee in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house, said the move was one of a number of options being considered in response to the apparent terrorist attack on a Russian airliner in Egypt. “There are a lot of suggestions to introduce exit visas at the moment,” Mr Solevyov said in an interview with a Moscow radio station. “Foreign ministry officials and members of the security services would explain to a citizen what he is risking. And when he has received this official information, confirming that 'yes, I know everything, I understand, and none the less I’m going', he would be granted the ability to leave,” he said.

It's not going to happen of course: the State not having the power to determine whether a Russian may leave Russia is one of the most cherished, as it probably should be, of the rights on offer under the new dispensation. But it's an interesting example of a mindset that still exists, isn't it?

And don't think that it applies only to Russia: there's plenty here at home who long for the past days of greater state power over us all.