For all the freedoms that have evaporated under Vladimir Putin's rule, one has remained untouched -- the right to travel abroad.
But now even that may be in danger.
Vladimir Makarov, a top Interior Ministry official, has called for barring Russians suspected of extremism from leaving the country.
If this proposal ever gains traction, it will no doubt be presented as an effort to prevent potential terrorists from receiving training abroad.
But given the Russian authorities' rather flexible definition of extremism, it could -- and let's be honest, probably would -- also result in any opponents of the Kremlin being deprived of their right to foreign travel.
As veteran Kremlin-watcher Paul Goble wrote on his blog, numerous Russian opposition figures have concluded that they have no future in Putin's Russia and have already emigrated.
And Makarov's announcement may encourage more Kremlin opponents, fearing that their right to travel may soon be revoked, to make the decision to leave as well.
Which, let's face it, was probably the real reason for Makarov's statement in the first place.
As a result of Putin's rule, the most vibrant centers of Russian culture in the world may soon be places like Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, London, and New York -- but not Moscow and St. Petersburg.
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