A Small Win for Free Speech

In any other week, the surprising verdict delivered by Russia's Constitutional Court last Thursday would have topped the headlines. By striking down parts of a law that had been designed to hamstring coverage of political campaigns, the high court gave the nation's beleaguered media a boost — and a reminder that not everyone has forgotten about constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Alexei Simonov, director of the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a media-rights group in Moscow, hailed the decision as "the highest example of common sense, which seldom exists in today's Russia."

On paper, it seemed a major blow for Vladimir Putin's...

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