Tag Archives: Putin-Russia

What Passes For Democracy In Putin Russia

Supporters of liberal candidates in a municipal election went through normal procedures required by law such as gathering signatures for their candidates and submitting them to the appropriate authorities. But, this is Putin Russia in which supporters of candidates can gather signatures but it is up to some bureaucrat to decide if the names written on the piece of paper are really Russian names. After all, maybe some people from Great Britain or the United States or elsewhere submitted their names in order to create disturbances in the beautiful land of Putin where democracy is based on the concept of doing what the Supreme Leader says is correct. Anyway, a judge threw out the petitions for the candidates on ground that an “expert” had decided they were forgeries and no one can challenge the argument of an “expert” since by definition he is an “expert.”

Tatyana Kondratkova, put it clearly: “This outrageous decision has destroyed what little hope I had left for what remains of democratic principles and fair trials in Russia.” Most probably word came down from above not to allow liberal candidates to run because if they won they might initiate investigations of corrupt officials. Simple solution, prove they are the stooge of those damn liberals who really don’t exist so the names on the list are not real. Life goes on in Putin Russia.

Another Russian Editor Beaten By “Unknown People”

Life in Putin Russia can be comfortable for those who toe the official line that life in Putin Russia is wonderful, but dare to utter criticism against the semi-authoritarian regime of the ex-KGB man, and the result might be uncomfortable. There are no witnesses to what happened to Mikhail Beketov, editor of the small circulation Khimkinskaya Pravda, but neighbors found the body of the newsman lying in a pool of blood close to his home. Vladmir Kursa, his half brother, said bluntly: “this was the result of the his professional activities, because he did not have a comfortable relationship with the mayor’s office.” Oleg Mitvol, a leader in the fight for environmental issues, echoed in: “Beketov is already the third editor to end up in intensive care.”

Individuals like Beketov are fighting to protect the right of freedom of speech and their enemies are those in power. His leg was amputated and he lost some fingers because he lay for so long unattended. After hesitation, city authorities finally gave the OK for a meeting and about 1,000 attended. Beketov continually challenged government activities, particularly building projects and he was rewarded, with a broken skull.

Canceled March Draws Crowd In Moscow

A scheduled march by those in opposition to the Putin regime attracted the attention of over 300 police and hundreds of reporters since it was an unusual occurrence in democratic Russia– people actually marching openly in protest against the government! Organizers of the march were denied a permit and had to cancel at the last minute but hundreds of reporters were there where they milled around with policemen who had hoped to beat up a few marchers. A man committed the heinous crime of unfurling a banner which read, “Free Russia” and was led away by the police before he could spread any other filthy comments about his nation.

Organizers of the march learned opposition leader Gary Kasparov would have been arrested had the march taken place. There was fear if the march went on, many people would be physically assaulted and sent to jail. The Putin regime has undoubtedly brought a sense of stability to Russia, but the price has been to decimate the budding democracy that was born in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In Defense Of Putin’s Foreign Policy: A Russian View

Alexander Kramarenko, writing in the Moscow Times, offers a vigorous defense of President Putin’s foreign polic initiatives. He believes Putin’s foreign policy is centered in pragmatism, multi-vctor diplomacy, and the nonconfrontational pursuit of national intrests. Russia seeks security for itself and nations on its borders. He notes, “we regret that the experience of the past 15 years have not helped some of our partners understand that a new new world is not a mere extension of the Western world minus the former Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc.” He cites the case of Kosovo independence which is being pushed by Western nations. “Why then do the Palestinians, for example, have to wait for a state of their own?” Kramarenko believes the West has double standards and this is what Putin is attempting to confront.

On the one hand, points out Kramarenko, the European Union asserts its control of nations within its own organization, but, on the other hand, it is the Bush policy to establish missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Which is it–EU or US? He argues that many problems being attributed to Russia are te fault of others and Putin is mainly focusing on what benefits his nation interests.

Kramarenko raises several key issues which offer a valid Russian explanation for their foreign policy behavior. They probably are right to oppose missile bases in Eastern Europe since the presence of such weapons is obviously a threat to the national interests of Russia.

Russia– An Imitation Democracy?

Robert Coalson, writing in the Moscow Times, raises the question as to whether or not Russia is an imitation democracy which has the trappings but not the essdence of a true democratic society. December’s campaign for elections to State Dumas was carefully orchestrated to emphasize the importance of “continuity” in Russian politics and de-emphasize the possibility of the disturbing qualities of fostering divergent political philosophies and ideas. President Putin has now annointed his successor, Dimitry Medvedev as literally his “little brother” and reports indicate Putin’s advisors are even teaching Medvedev how to speak, walk, and behave like his older brother.

Coalson wonders if the idea of “change” will occur during 2008 in Russian politics. The election for a new president will center around the importance of “continuity” and finding a new Putin who will maintain the status quo. It will be a refeerendum on Putin and any success for opponents will disrupt Russia’s economic progress. Political analyst, Gleb Pavolvsky argues Putin pursues the strategy of maximizing his options and there is always an element of uncertainty regarding his decisions. He wants everyone focused on his decision because that must be the correct one. The Russian democracy that was born in the collapse of the Soviet Union has been replaced by the personal politics of one man- Vladmir Putin.

Putin’s heavy handed approach to politics and government is dependent upon vast oil revenues, but he has failed to expand the range of Russian products in case energy is no longer so dominant. A one person government always runs the risk that his choices may be wise today, but tomorrow they may be a disaster for his society. Russia needs the voices of diversity for its own economic, political, and social health.