“What does this mean?” Volkov asks rhetorically. “Over simply it means that the number of cases will be more but the reaction less, that is, the public reaction” which has been behind the review of “the odious Paragraph 282.“ No one will be especially upset by people being sent to jail for 15 days, and the powers will still have that provision in reserve to use selectively.
This is what “a thaw and liberalization look like in Russia in 2018,” he continues. That is not to say this isn’t a step in the right direction in one regard, but it is not the victory that some are suggesting – and it certainly does not mean that the regime has changed in any fundamental way.
Russian journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva offers a related point. She writes that “the most dangerous thing in present-day Russia is the decay of the terms ‘crime’ and ‘law.’ Essentially,” she suggests, “today it is possible to give one and the same definition: ‘this is why you can be put in jail. ‘A crime’ in this sense is an occasion, and ‘a law’ is a means.”
To make her point clear, she offers an updated version of a Stalin-era joke: “What are you in for?” one prisoner asks another. “For a like,” the second say. “You’re lying,” the first says; ‘for a like, they give five years; but you’re in for eight. For a repost, won’t you admit?” (