In today’s edition, our five handpicked stories explore the downside to a “safety first” culture, a dispatch from inside Kashmir’s lockdown, a potential trade deal between Britain and the U.S., a debate over what it means to be wild, and 10 great reads.
Moscow has been seeing its largest protests in years as thousands have come out weekly against the decision to bar opposition candidates from running in city council elections. While the stakes may initially have been about some minor municipal seats, the Kremlin may now be viewing the ongoing standoff as an existential threat.
The protests began in mid-July, when officials blocked several high-profile opposition candidates from running in the Moscow elections, even after they fulfilled the races’ onerous logistical requirements. Though the marches started small, they grew tenfold as police cracked down on protesters, sometimes violently. This past Saturday, some 50,000 people turned out in Moscow, according to organizers’ estimates.
The increasing numbers may be painting the Kremlin into a corner, experts warn. Mark Galeotti, a longtime Russia watcher, notes in The Moscow Times that Vladimir Putin and his allies remember the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union, and see giving ground to the protesters as repeating what they view as the mistakes of Mikhail Gorbachev.
“It was foolish and shortsighted to have kicked the opposition candidates off the electoral lists,” Mr. Galeotti writes. “Having done so, though, the government has locked itself into a position from which it cannot afford to retreat, or at least to be seen to retreat. This has become a struggle for power.”