Former British ambassador to Russia, Rodric Braithwaite, writing in the Moscow Times, explored the issue as to whether the Russian people are ready to enjoy a democratic form of government. He believes President Putin’s approach is based on the assumption his people are no yet ready for true democracy and achieving that goal must be conducted in a step-by-step process. Braithwaite argues the Russian people have endured fifty years of authortarian communist rule only to be followed by the Yeltsin period in which wealthy businessmen virtually took over the government and seized its riches. Therefore, it is no wonder they hestiate to accept a free and open society in which anything goes, particularly their lives.
The election two weeks ago was managed by Putin in order to ensure his protege, Dimitry Medvedev won. Although the process was controlled, argues the former ambasador, it was an election and 30% of the people voted for someone other than the official candidate. He does not believe Russians are unable to accept democracy, their current doubts stem from the disorganized collapse of the Soviet Union which left in its wakes confusion, proverty and disorganization. As the economy improves, Russians are more receptive to the process of democracy.
Baithwaite quotes the wise words of America’s great Russian expert, George Kennan, who years ago wrote: “Give them time, let them be Russians, let them work out their internal problems in their own manner.” George kennan always believed in the inherent intelligence and dignity of the Russian people. They will eventually find the road to democracy and achieve the goals of being able to live in a free society.