[There has been] a wave of unsolved attacks and official harassment against journalists, human rights activists and opposition politicians [in Russia]. Rarely, if ever, is anyone held responsible. One editor was beaten in front of his home, and the assailants seized only copies of his articles and other material for the next day’s issue, not his wallet or cellphone. Another journalist was pummeled by plainclothes police officers after a demonstration. These types of attacks or other means of intimidation, including aggressive efforts by prosecutors to shut down news media outlets or nonprofit groups, serve as an unnerving deterrent. And in a few cases in recent years, the violence in the country has escalated into contract killings. Corruption is widespread in Russia, and government often functions poorly. But most journalists and nonprofit groups shy away from delving deeply into these problems. The culture of impunity in Russia represents the most glaring example of the country’s inability to establish real laws in the two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And this failure radiates throughout society, touching upon ordinary men and women who are trying to carve out lives in the new Russia, but are wary of questioning authority. Among the major beneficiaries [of Russia's "legal nihilism"] have been the governing party’s politicians.