We soon may be able to add yet another name to the list of Vladimir Putin's liberal enablers.
Speculation is rampant that longtime human rights activist Ella Pamfilova will replace Vladimir Churov as head of the Russian electoral commission.
Putin named the widely respected Pamfilova, who is currently the Kremlin's human rights ombudsman, as a member of the commission last week.
Russian media reports called her potential appointment as chair part of a rebranding to give the commission legitimacy in advance of September's State Duma elections.
In this sense, her role would be analogous to that once played by Aleksei Kudrin during his tenure as Russia's finance minister, when he provided a respectable public face for a deeply corrupt regime.
But while the Kremlin's motives are comprehensible, Pamfilova's are not.
Her name has been floated in the wake of a concerted crackdown on civil society.
The Justice Ministry has sought to close down the independent election monitoring group Golos.
And the Tatarstan Supreme Court has shut down the human rights group Agora.
With the economy in a tailspin, the Kremlin is clearly nervous about this year's elections.
In this environment, nobody expects them to be anything close to free and fair.
And this can only make one wonder why Pamfilova would agree to be the part of the charade to lend them legitimacy.
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