This guest column amounts to a conversation between two of the crucial figures in the world of Soviet bloc dissidents about developments in their part of the world since the overthrow of communism there in 1989. They agree that a “creeping coup d'état” is underway, in which not only the government administrations of their countries have changed, but also their systems of governance—for the worse. “It is not,” they agree, “what the democratic opposition spent twenty-five years fighting for.” Their apprehension is that, under new forms, the old authoritarian impulses are returning to East-Central Europe as well as Russia.

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