The Russian government says it is a big believer in international law. But how can it agitate for strict legality on the global stage when its own house is in such disorder? President Vladimir Putin may be primarily a law-and-order president - but the state of Russia's law and order is embarrassing.
Last Thursday night, Sergei Yushenkov, a co-chairman of Liberal Russia, was shot to death by the entrance to his apartment building.
It was the eighth murder of a Russian legislator since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Less than a year ago, another co-chairman of Liberal Russia, Vladimir Golovyov, was also slain among allegations that he had been involved in a case of privatization fraud. Moreover, not one of these murders - which were probably contract killings - has been solved. Russia is racked with illegality, crimes that go unpunished and fraud as a way of life.
Yushenkov was one of the first to march in the Soviet era for democractic reform and values, even though he wore a military uniform. His calls for military reform and a stop to the war in Chechnya earned him many enemies in the Army and security services.
Unable to protect the pillars of truth and democracy within Russian society, the Russian government, which spends way beyond its means on wars, the military and the security organs, now wants to blow $600,000 on a statue of - Andrei Sakharov.
Why is Russia, especially the graft-hungry Moscow government, erecting a $600,000 monument to a great man while it is unable to protect them while they are alive?
The government would be better off spending this money on ensuring that the perpetrators of this latest crime are found, not on erecting monuments. The spirit of Sakharov and Yushenkov can live on without such things.
If it does finally go up - over the objections of Sakharov's widow - the monument to him will be nothing but a "democratic" face to show the world and a veil with which to cover up Russia's shame - a $600,000 fig leaf.
Really, this shows how little has changed since former President Boris Yeltsin took his bow and a new man came to the seat of power with the aim of establishing a "dictatorship of the law."
The murderers of Yushenkov have sent the chilling message to Russian society that the state is still run at their whim and not by the wishes of the electorate.
In fact, Russia's laws usually exist only on paper. The law-enforcement and judicial systems are, by and large, apathetic and arbitrary, serving more as a tool for the selective application of power by people with connections than as impartial enforcers of the legal code. Russian justice is most decidedly not blind - rather, it can be and often is intimidated or bought off in order to achieve a desired result, whether its target be a powerful oligarch at the reins of a media empire or a lowly propiska-less immigrant walking the streets of the capital city in fear of the everpresent document checks - which never lead to anything more than the passing of a hundred rubles or so.
In losing Yushenkov, Russia has lost one of the last few bold voices that were motivated by force of conviction and truth. The loss of such a person is a great one. Russian society has been robbed of a treasure and left with even fewer honest public figures who act out of conscience and not out of personal ambition or greed.