Gelman argues that the intellectual climate in Russia has changed dramatically since Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term.
Previously, he says, social and political policy was in the hands of Vladislav Surkov who, as deputy Kremlin chief of staff, managed his bailiwick with a
deft hand and tolerated intellectual dissent.
But Surkov was pushed aside earlier this year and now deputy presidential chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin has set a harsher tone.
"Volodin has changed the whole game," Gelman says. "He said: 'If you are not with us, you are against us. Either you are ours or you are an enemy and will
be treated as such.' That is, everything has been divided into two camps."
This, he says, is the root of Russia's climate of fear. "Now everyone must be afraid, including insiders," Gelman says. "That is, you can swear fealty to
the regime, you can declare that Putin is your idol, but that does not mean that you can sleep easily."
Filmmaking is another area to feel the effects of the Kremlin's new anti-intellectualism.
In May, Putin met with officials in Sochi and declared that the state will only support the production of films that "inspire pride in one's nation and
one's history." On June 18, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky announced the formation of a council that would evaluate all film projects on historical
themes and make decisions about funding.
On June 20, a state-supported film biography of cosmonaut Yury Gagarin was released to widespread criticism that it was a sanitized, Soviet-style
idealization. One critic wrote it was as if director Pavel Parkhomenko "had turned a feature from 'Pravda' into a film."
Ethnic Tatar filmmaker Ramil Tukhvatullin says it is clear that the Kremlin's goal is to promote unambiguous, one-sided portrayals of history.
"There is a classic film by Sergei Eisenstein called 'Ivan the Terrible' -- the scene when the Russians capture Kazan shows what was happening from one
side of the gates, when they were attacking us," Tukhvatullin says.
"If we try to make a film showing what was happening on our side of the gate, where people were dying in defense of our nation -- Moscow would call this
'inciting ethnic hatred.' It could never happen. And it is easy to understand why: Moscow has its own agenda."
Increasingly, Russian intellectuals seem to be facing the choice of either leaving Russia, like economist Guriyev or chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, or
remaining and facing the possibility of prosecution, like the feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot or anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny.
That's the choice art critic Gelman faces as he considers his future in Perm.
"We'll see," Gelman says. "People keep asking me, 'Are you like Guriyev or are you like Navalny?'"
This post appears courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.