IN RUSSIA, critics and supporters of President Vladimir Putin agree on very little. Yet as Donald Trump prepares to take the oath of office, there is one thing on which they concur: For the next four years, the United States will likely stop promoting democracy and human rights in Russia.
During his campaign, Trump spoke in favor of waterboarding, killing the families of terrorist suspects and barring Muslims from the United States, all statements that drew heavy criticism from international human rights organizations. “Putin had an affinity for Trump before the elections because they both brutally reject political correctness,” says Fyodor Lukyanov, a political analyst who heads Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a Kremlin-linked foreign-policy advisory group. “He believes the crisis in Russia-U.S. relations began when the Americans started to talk about democratic values. Trump is clearly not the kind of person who cares about such matters.”
Some Russian opposition figures hoped Trump might prove to be another Ronald Reagan, whose fierce criticism of the Soviet Union’s human rights abuses inspired dissidents in the Communist state. But not anymore. Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil chief executive, has dismayed many Kremlin critics, who are alarmed by his deep ties to Russia’s political and business elite. “It would take a miracle for Tillerso