President Putin’s latest announcement of his most probable intention of become prime minister after he steps down as president is another example of the growing trend in Russia towards one party government. Putin has already ensured government control over all main television channels in order to prevent opposition voices from being heard. Recently, radio stations carrying BBC news reports or Radio Free Europe broadcasts were harassed into ceasing such activities with threats of losing their licenses. The highly respected Educated Media which trains journalists and fights for freedom of the press was just shut down. Several journalists have died under mysterious circumstances, the latest being Ivan Safronov who supposedly plunged to his death from his apartment. Safronov had printed an article exposing failed missile tests which reportedly infuriated the Defense Department.
In a Moscow Times story, the newspaper says, “the crackdown on Russian news media has proceeded unabated and, if anything, with even greater intensity.” Putin has undoubtedly brought stability to Russia after the free wheeling 1990s. He has slowly pushed out wealthy businessmen who in any way posed a threat to the government’s monopoly over major industries. In a sense, he has modernized communism while claiming to support free enterprise. America was blessed with leaders in its early years as a democracy who “walked away from power” to ensure democracy would survive. Putin always walks towards power and his place at the center of it. In that sense, he represents a tragedy for development of democracy in Russia.