The apparent government kidnapping of an influential opposition figure is exposed. What will happen next?
Remember Aleksandr Bastrykin's "forest scandal"? In light of the horrors Leonid Razvozzhayev says he endured, merely hauling a journalist out into the woods and threatening his life looks positively quaint. Bastrykin has managed to survive -- and indeed thrive -- amid not just the forest incident, but also the revelations about his unreported properties and business dealings in Europe. And his sharp bureaucratic elbows have made him plenty of enemies inside the elite.
Will the mushrooming scandal around Razvozzhayev's abduction and alleged torture finally be the one that brings him down? I wouldn't count on it.
Bastrykin enjoys President Vladimir Putin's favor and the Kremlin leader isn't one to throw his people under the bus. Moreover, the case that led to Razvozzhayev's abduction -- allegations that he, Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, and Konstantin Lebedev conspired with Georgian officials to provoke mass unrest in Russia -- was clearly green lighted at the highest level. But more pertinent than how the scandal will affect Bastrykin is another question: Is this one of those tipping point cases that turns a critical mass of the public against the regime? We'll see in the coming weeks. But even by the standards of today's Russia, what appears to have happened to Razvozzhayev is pretty shocking.