Tag Archives: Russian democracy

Gorbachev Urges Patience With New Russian Democracy

Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union, urged a meeting of the World Political Forum, to have greater patience with Russia’s march toward democracy. In referring to recent tensions brought on by American insistence on missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland, he said: “If you crucify us, we will be unable to cooperate with you. Russia is only halfway through to democratization progress now, but I expect the difference between Russis’s and the EU’s understanding of democracy and civil rights remain in the long run too.” Gorbachev urged Europeans to have more patience and to make greater efforts to understand the forces at play in Russia. His feelings were echoed by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany of Hungary who noted, “The European Union has to build up a mutual conversation with Russia, instead of continuously judging its actions without an intention to understand them.”

Mikhail Gorbachev is a voice of reason, but even he is angry at the missile bases being built by the United States in nations adjacent to Russia. He emphasized that no Russian could accept the Bush claim the bases were there to protect Europe against an Iranian attack and also expressed hope Bush would not do anything as stupid as attacking Iran. There is little doubt Putin has seriously damaged democracy in Russia, but with a new president appearing on the scene this spring, there is hope a positive approach to Russia might reduce tensions. One easy way to assist the new president– who probably will be Dimity Medvedev– is to abandon the bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and take up Russia’s offer of creating a missile base which is under joint control of Russia and the United States.

Putin Police Goons Break Up Democratic Protest In Moscow

Riot police broke up a march against President Vladmir Putin and arrested chess legend Garry Kasparov and several other opposition leaders. The marchers were peaceful and solely intent on presenting a petition questioning the adherence to democratic principles by authorities in the upcoming election when police armed with truncheons moved in on the marchers. The protest group had just come from an authorized meeting and simply wanted to present a petition. Kaspartov commented: “Once more they have demonstrated that the only language they can use with their own people is the language of violence, truncheons, and riot police.” He was then immediately surrounded by police and hustled into a police van.

The attack on Kasparov is simply another in a series of actions against anyone or dares oppose the rule of Putin. Although, opposition to Putin is weak and fragmented, the president appears obsessed with eliminating any semblance of opposition to this rule. In a sense, Putin is living up to his education and training in the KGB.

Why Do Russians Want Authoritarian Leaders?

A Soviet era joke reveals the surrealism of the Russian people. In the joke, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khruschev, and Leonid Brezhnev are riding in a train when the engine suddenly halts. Stalin has the engineer shot. The train still doesn’t move. Khrushchev posthumously rehabilitates the engineer, but the train still doesn’t move. Brezhnev then draws the curtains and says: “Good. We’re moving.” In an interesting article in the Moscow times, Alex Bayer raises questions about his fellow Russians and why they go along with the Putin charade that the nation is adhering to democratic procedures. Putin has portrayed himself as a man of action and people go along with that imagery despite the growing disrespect he displays for principles of democracy. “In fact,” says Bayer, “there is little reason to doubt that he will leave office in the same way as the overwhelming majority of his predecessors — in a casket.” Putin has destroyed all opposition parties and leaders by his heavy handed leadership style. Russians apparently seek his promise of stability, continuity, preservation of their property and wealth and protection from unknown outside forces that threaten the security of Russia.

Bayer points out that today there are millions of Russians enjoying the good life, but still they want a strong leader at their head. Children are being educated with access to western democratic ideas, but a majority of the Russian people prefers the order of security to the volatile world of democracy. Is that feeling part of Russian character?

No Reason For Debates In Russian Election -Results Are A Given!

Vyacheslav Volodin, a prominent member of President Putin’s United Russia party commented that election debates were nothing but “squabbles.” He refused to allow any member of the dominant United Russia political party to take part in election discussions or debates since it was a waste of time. As Gregory Bovi commented in the Moscow Times, “These people are completely isolated from the daily lives of their electorate. With rare exceptions, most politicians are unable to engage in public debate. They cannot answer uncomfortable questions without having prior preparation, nor are they fit to participate in the tough, competitive environment of politics. Moreover, as a rule, they are incapable of speaking in a language that ordinary people can understand.” Puin’s decision to had United Russia, in effect, ended the debate because assumes his victory and that of his party is a given. Democracies in the world have evolved politically to the point where public debates on television are an accepted aspect of electoral politics–but not in Russia. Putin’s controlled media has not helped. They scheduled debates in the 11:00 a.m. slot and the 7:05 a.m. time period or late at night when people are sleeping. Such is life in 2007 in the democracy of Russia.

Soviet Communist Legacy–Alive And Well In Russia

November 7th marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of a Bolshevik government in Russia. In theory, the Soviet Union expired nearly twenty years ago, but its legacy is firmly established in Putin’s Russia. Vladmir Putin would readily fit into a Soviet Union Politburo where he undoubtedly would implement similar governing rules as he has today– disdain for a free press, opposition parties and the right of dissent. he abolished election of governors and replaced it with a system allowing the President to appoint those officials — a Communist era strategy of centralization of power. The judiciary has been intimidated, the mass media is directly under his iron fist control and one could count on the fingers of both hands the number of top level officials who played a role in the fight for democracy in the 1990s. Many nations that had been communist, upon ending that type of government passed laws forbidding former Soviet leaders from serving in the new democratic governments. Russia never passed such laws and today former KGB agents like Putin and former low level communist politicians dominate the Russian government.

Putin once described the overthrow of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical disaster of the twentieth century. If he continues his quest to be the ruler of Russia–indefinitely– he may have to revise that statement because he intends to ensure the Soviet Union never died but lives on comfortably in Putin’s Russia.