The Soviet physicist and Nobel prize winner Andrei Sakharov arrives at Paris's Orly airport under the watchful eye of frontier police December 9, 1988.
Courtesy Reuters

Since the Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng made his risky escape from house arrest and took temporary refuge in the U.S. embassy, Beijing has offered the world a fresh look at how it handles dissidence. At the same time, the incident brings to mind an authoritarian regime from the past, the Soviet Union. And although the Soviet Union should provide a cautionary tale for Chinese authorities, there have been signs over the past few weeks that the Kremlin of old has become a template for apparatchiks in Beijing. At the heart of the matter is a dilemma: Is

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