Seriously, Russia? Even your dissidents have declined. You have a bunch of irrelevant, irreverent punks, a whistleblower with an inflated ego and unrealistic political ambitions, and finally, a greedy, filthy rich, little crook.
I have written a post about Pussy Riot and one on Berezovsky, and I think I don't need to elaborate how little respect I have for these two in particular. What seems disproportionate is the amount of paranoid, anti-Russian rhetoric in the Western media. I think it was putting the label "dissident" next to Berezovsky's name in the headlines that riled me. I think the right label should be "fraudster" or at the very least, "oligarch"... I might even let "tycoon" slide. I am so fed up of the Russia-bashing in Western media, that I have taken to reading news and Twitter feeds in Russian in addition to my usual news feeds in English--which takes considerably more effort, but there is only so much Putin is assisting the traitor Snowden and Putin "stealing" the Super Bowl ring I can stomach.
Then, we have Aleksei Navalny. Navalny is such a class act, crying corruption, corruption everywhere, and then announcing his ambitions for presidency. Presidency? You, Navalny? I fear for Russia then. But I'm not worried seeing Navalny becoming Russian President. Like most of the opposition movement, he is restricted to his Moscow base. But Moscow is hardly representative of Russia. According to a poll by the independent Leveda centre, he isn't that well known, much less popular. This could be because other regions mostly receive their information on public TV and radio, rather than from online media.
I don't find RT to be truly independent (the Fox News of Russia, really), but so far this is the only critical news segment on Navalny that I can find in English: Great White Hype: Protest star Navalny's dark side missed by mainstream. Navalny's radical and nationalist political ambitions, if fully realised, will be dangerous not just to Putin, but to Russia as a whole. Similarly, Putin's nationalist streak is veering the country close enough to this cliff--and it is absurd that the anti-Putin Navalny is aspiring to lead Russia towards the same path to doom.
Now, back to the other dissident that's crowding the Russian headlines: Snowden. Of course everyone has become paranoid about their "privacy" and what not. But the fact is, I don't believe any intelligence agency has the energy or manpower to spy on everybody all at once, even if they have the technology, which means, Average Joe or Ivan Ivanov would have little to worry about. In fact, I don't think this "invasion of privacy" is any more pervasive than old-fashioned methods of snooping. It's snooping, for chrissakes. You need to be a worthy target first before they decide to snoop on you. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time and energy.
So when Snowden flew off to Moscow to confuse and confound the hell out of the USA, Russia, and China, I wondered if all this was really necessary. He could have remained anonymous and spared the journalists, diplomats, and not to mention, heads of state, all this stress, and also, make it easier for future whistleblowers. Even Putin saw little value in Snowden's intelligence and was trying to shrug off the problem, calling the whole affair akin to "shearing a pig--lots of squealing but little wool", and delegating the responsibility of sorting it out to his FSB head. Well, I'm sure the FSB already has similar systems in place for snooping on their own people--what more could they possibly need? But no doubt, Russia is sympathising with Snowden, if not to piss the Americans off, or as some form of revenge. After all, Julian Assange has lots of airtime on RT, including his own show. Giving Assange airtime on RT would be one way to spite the West.
I suppose it's all relative. The US and Russia will consider different people to be dissidents. Granted, people like Navalny and Snowden are brave men, but I really do wish they were wiser, for everyone's sake.