This guest column amounts to a conversation between two of the most crucial Soviet bloc dissidents about developments since the 1989 overthrow of communismin their part of the world. 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—and changed 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 to Russia.

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