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 The Russian democracy that was born in the collapse of the Soviet Union has been replaced by the personal politics of one man- Vladmir Putin.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.