Russia's Gunpoint Politics

In life, Galina Starovoitova was a beacon for democracy. Her murder may prove a turning point

Galina Starovoitova was a Russian democratic politician of the old school. An ardent admirer of the late Andrei Sakharov, she had once been a powerful force in the Duma, the lower house of parliament. In recent years her voice was lonely and often ignored. But hers was a name that many Russians knew, and if she no longer held great political power, her moral power remained intact.

Her relative political weakness made her murder two weeks ago seem all the more cynical, as if those who had ordered it felt they were ridding themselves of a minor irritation. At her...