A high-profile dissident who could challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin in next year's election was recently imprisoned for the third time this year, following a series of apparent maneuvers by the Kremlin to keep him sidelined.
That sidelining is part of an established pattern. The Russian administration possesses "lots of mechanisms they can use to sabotage candidates that they don't want," according to Gordon Smith, a professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina who specializes in Russian politics.
And many of those tools have been put to use against the recently imprisoned lawyer and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny — who has been the victim of what experts describe as an elaborate system to silence and disarm.
Understanding that suppression apparatus is key to understanding Putin's iron grip on his country.