Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Well, if this is the neocon line on this issue then most of us have to be defined as neocons I'm afraid.  The Lukashenka regime have violated many individual basic rights and using undercover police to sort out people that are swearing is beyond any civilized concept on rule of law, in my opinion.  The authoritarian label on the Lukashenka regime is something he has admitted himself.
"My position and the state will never allow me to become a dictator but an authoritarian ruling style is characteristic of me."
 

PNAC, and Bush, would be so proud that their propaganda has even penetrated so-called liberals.

True liberals do not defend authoritarian regimes even if people try to silence them by calling them names.  

That said if Lukashenka is genuinely popular in his country why does he need to resort to violence and use undercover police to control the people even to the extent of shutting their mouth when they swear.  That is not the sign of a man in control and with the support of the majority of the Byelorussian people and when he resorts to beating up politicians like Alexander Kazulin from the opposition the outcome of the election couldn't be anything else than favouring the current regime which most election observers called a farce.

1. Salaries are regularly paid to ordinary workers (not extravagant salaries to CEO's).  

2. The GDP grew at 8-9% last year - better than any western European economy.

  1.  That is commendable, but it still doesn't make Lukashenka a democrat.  There are many examples of dictators providing quite well for their people economically, Qaddafi is one example.  

  2.  Yes, and that is good, but this is only gains in the economy and has nothing to do with the democratization and opening of the political process in the country.  The growth in GDP, if real, is high, but then again with an average income of US$225 per month per person, the country has a lot to gain before they reach the economical standards of Western Europe.  

1. It's almost like you (and all the multinationals) would like to impose economic shock therapy and free markets and "democracy" on Byelorussia, "for it's own good". It's doing pretty well by itself, you know.

1. I really don't see were you got that idea from.  Have I promoted the interests of the multinational company's in my comment?  You seem to imply that when people promote democracy they automatically promote a libertarian free-market economy, which is not the case.  And democracy is not the same as chaos which you also seem to imply in your comment.  It is possible to grant the people political rights without selling the resources to the multinational companies.  One way of doing it is to tax the companies and thus use the tax money to the benefit of the people.    

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:23:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 I really don't see were you got that idea from.  Have I promoted the interests of the multinational company's in my comment?  You seem to imply that when people promote democracy they automatically promote a libertarian free-market economy, which is not the case.  And democracy is not the same as chaos which you also seem to imply in your comment.  It is possible to grant the people political rights without selling the resources to the multinational companies.  One way of doing it is to tax the companies and thus use the tax money to the benefit of the people.

Maybe you yourself haven't, but people espousing the same "benefits" of "democracy" were more than happy to inflict "libertarian free-market" policies on Russia.  People in Belorussia saw the misery ordinary Russians experienced due to these policies and want no part of it.  You don't understand - democracy IS synonymous with chaos in Russia and Belorussia (and Ukraine to an extent).

You throw around the "authoritarian" moniker without even thinking about it.  Is a leader indeed authoritarian if the majority of the population support him?  Is Bush authoritarian?  I don't think even the most ardent liberal would seriously venture to make that claim in public.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Bush authoritarian?  I don't think even the most ardent liberal would seriously venture to make that claim in public.

Me! I will. And I'm not all that ardent. He's got an inconvenient legacy system he's still trying to get around but he's working on it. Have you read the stuff we say about Bush and Blair and co around here?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:44:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean liberal American politician (if that's not an oxymoron).

Writing something on an internet blog as a hobby and actually making the same claim as a professional politician are two very different things...

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Accusing any of the regulars around here of being priests of the neo-liberal gods shows either a certain lack of attention. Maybe it could be put down to a burst of over-enthusiasm .

You don't understand - democracy IS synonymous with chaos in Russia and Belorussia (and Ukraine to an extent).

Well, isn't that nice for the anti-democrats? How did it get that way?

Is a leader indeed authoritarian if the majority of the population support him?

He can be. Depends on how he acts.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

You don't understand - democracy IS synonymous with chaos in Russia and Belorussia (and Ukraine to an extent).

Well, isn't that nice for the anti-democrats? How did it get that way?

Talk about your lack of attention.  This is all I write about on this site.  The fact that shock therapy, recommended by western economists, combined with "democracy" have left Russians hungering for stability - which Putin has provided.

It got that way because the west made it that way.  It is very convenient, isn't it?  The west creates the problem, then berates and belittles the country for having the problem.

What I don't understand is that people here lionize Hugo Chavez for his anti-globalization stand.  Here's Lukashenko doing the same thing in Belorussia, yet he's ostracized.  What's the difference between the two?  Both spend most of their GDP improving the situation for the poorest members of their countries.  That seems like a laudable goal by any liberal standard.  

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:57:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the difference between the two?

Winning elections the clean way?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have yet to see a "clean" election in any country.  I believe I have a better chance of seeing the tooth fairy.
by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm... what's your problem, off the top of my head, with the 2005 German elections?

And again, are you incapable of seeing gradations in cleanliness?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:13:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...or for that matter, what is your problem with Chávez's recall referendum vote?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll answer both of your questions with a question - Do you honestly believe that either of these elections were fair?  If so, I have a large (actually it's the longest in the world) railroad that I'd like to sell you.
by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What precisely is your argument against the 'fairness' of these elections? Even leaving aside all of the other arguments, what would it take for an election to be deemed fair by you?

Because yeah, I'd suggest that those elections were fair or close to it. Australia and NZ's elections are also fair as I understand the concept (much as I may disagree with the outcome in Aus).

by dukkha on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 12:32:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People in Belorussia saw the misery ordinary Russians experienced due to these policies and want no part of it.  You don't understand - democracy IS synonymous with chaos in Russia and Belorussia (and Ukraine to an extent).

That is due to bad leaders and bad policy implementations and not because of the system as such.  And no, I don't believe for a second that democracy IS synonymous with chaos in neither Russia nor Belorussia and certainly not in Ukraine.  If implemented correctly, that might even mean gradually, democracy is only a blessing for the people.

You throw around the "authoritarian" moniker without even thinking about it.  Is a leader indeed authoritarian if the majority of the population support him?  Is Bush authoritarian?  I don't think even the most ardent liberal would seriously venture to make that claim in public.

As I said in my previous comment the label of "authoritarianism" is very much corroborated by Lukhashenka himself so if you don't believe me then believe him. Yes, a leader can be very much authoritarian even if he is supported by the people in ancient Greece the people even elected a dictator in times of crisis.  And yes, Bush has a lot of authoritarian characteristics, not as much as Lukashenka, but he is well on his way.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:33:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I don't believe for a second that democracy IS synonymous with chaos in neither Russia nor Belorussia and certainly not in Ukraine.  If implemented correctly, that might even mean gradually, democracy is only a blessing for the people.

I wasn't asking you.  I was telling you how Russians feel about democracy after having it forced down their throats.  If you were in Russia during the transition period and saw what "your blessing for the people" did, you would not make such a statement.

Have you ever gone to a circus and seen completely mentally-unstable and severely physically-handicapped people puking all over the bleachers (and each other) and spending the whole day there because they are let in for free and they would die of exposure alone on the street in the winter?  Ordinary people could not help them, as they were not being paid and, in many cases, weren't getting enough to eat themselves.  The only people that benefitted from the free market, democratic reforms, the New Russians, were too busy buying rhinestone-studded leashes for their rottweilers to be bothered with helping those in need.

Putin is a prime example of a democratically-elected, genuinely-popular leader who displays "authoritarian" tendencies.  Are you going to tell the Russian voters that they can't elect him?  Well, that's exactly what you're telling the Belorussian people.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:43:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 I wasn't asking you.  I was telling you how Russians feel about democracy after having it forced down their throats.  If you were in Russia during the transition period and saw what "your blessing for the people" did, you would not make such a statement.

If you engage in a debate prepared to be answered.  It is not democracy that made the Russian peoples lives miserable; it was the mindless privatizations of the leaders in charge i.e. the Yeltsin regime and his good friends the oligarchs.

The problem is that much of the blame for the miserable state of affairs have been put on Gorbatchev because of his Glasnost and Perestroika policy, when in fact the one responsible for the libertarian privatization was Yeltsin.  

In my opinion there is a slight difference between Putin and Lukashenka.  First of all the jailing of political opponents, while common enough now in Belarus and the countries of Central Asia, has not become accepted practice in Russia; for the most part, the Kremlin's intolerance of public critics has been limited to verbal threats.  The Yukos case and its repercussions are of course questionable, but then again most of the oligarchs acquiring of wealth have been at best irregular and suspicious.  

What is puzzling though is that Putin doesn't seem to be consequent in his investigations and legal scrutiny  of the oligarchs financial dispositions, which basically means that only those that challenges his political position seems to be investigated and jailed, see Abramovitch.  Still, it is a cynical fact that political stability is much more important and needed in a Nuclear Power State like Russia than it is in other States and thus has to get priority before extensive and uncontrollable reforms.  Even so I have to admit that for instance Putin's abolishing of direct gubernatorial elections and switching to a system of Presidential appointments of governors and his tight control of the media have been two major setbacks to the democratic reforms in the country.  

After all it ought to be possible to start a process of democratic reforms gradually while at the same time being able to uphold law and order.  This has been done in the former eastern-block countries and ought to be possible in Russia even if it means reforms at a slower pace.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:58:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

If you engage in a debate prepared to be answered.  It is not democracy that made the Russian peoples lives miserable; it was the mindless privatizations of the leaders in charge i.e. the Yeltsin regime and his good friends the oligarchs.

I'm not "debating" you.  Were you in Russia during the transition period?  Did you see it firsthand?  Let me assure you it is quite different seeing the mass suffering in person, rather than reading about it in your morning paper while sitting in your nice safe apartment/house with a full stomache and no one shooting at you and your kids every day.

Anyway, my argument is not that democracy per se caused the problems.  I'm saying that Russians perceive it to have caused them by association with free market "reforms" and privatization.

Gorbachev is no saint.  He knew what the consequences of perestroika would be, yet he took no steps to ensure a modicum of stability during the transition.

You should really do some research before making statements like this one:


Even so I have to admit that for instance Putin's abolishing of direct gubernatorial elections and switching to a system of Presidential appointments of governors and his tight control of the media have been two major setbacks to the democratic reforms in the country.

Do you know why Putin started appointing governors?  Because the mafia (sometimes the actual one, sometimes the local political one - and often these are both one and the same) was "electing" their candidate every time.  The people had no say in the matter.  Voters, however, have elected Putin - twice - and have confidence in his judgment.  Who would you rather have as your governor - a local oligarch strongman or an apparatchik loyal to Putin?  Neither choice is ideal, but I would choose the apparatchik every time in those circumstances.  That's why you don't hear any complaining from Russians about Putin's decision.

The same is true of the media.  Oligarchs were using their stations as private mouthpieces to settle scores and to get themselves elected by saturation coverage of their campaigns (but not allowing rivals any airtime at all).  How democratic is that?

This statement leads me to believe you "get" it:


After all it ought to be possible to start a process of democratic reforms gradually while at the same time being able to uphold law and order.  This has been done in the former eastern-block countries and ought to be possible in Russia even if it means reforms at a slower pace.

This is EXACTLY what Russia is doing!

So why, then, do you buy into the western noisemachine that is trying to paint Russia as "backsliding away from democracy", "with un-democratic tendencies"?

by slaboymni on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 06:00:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not "debating" you.

Yes, you are.  You started of by commenting my comment and that is fair enough, after all that is why we are here to exchange views.  

You should really do some research before making statements like this one:

After all it ought to be possible to start a process of democratic reforms gradually while at the same time being able to uphold law and order.  This has been done in the former eastern-block countries and ought to be possible in Russia even if it means reforms at a slower pace.
I did, the statement is from the Washington Post and it is perfectly in order.  Putin has to be able to take criticism like everyone else after all he is the leader of a big and powerful country.  

You don't need to abolish the right to election in order to get to the mafia you just have to beef up the justice system by employing more lawyers and introduce legislation that secures transparency.  One possibility is to set up a directorate that audits and control the regions and their economical and political system and introduce criteria's that ensures the candidates elect ability like no double income, to business interests while in office, no favouring of business contracts and the likes.  There is no guarantee at all that the appointments will not include mafia people as you are well aware of the Soviet apparatchik and the business mafia are very much infiltrated and often feed off each other.  

There was, in my view, no need to tighten the control on the media either, he could have started an investigation, which he did, into the business dealings of the oligarchs and used anti-trust legislation to split the media conglomerate thus ensuring that there no domination of the media sector by a few powerful people that is perfectly legal and are being done when needed in most democratic countries, see the split of the Standard oil company in the US.

This statement leads me to believe you "get" it:

In case you haven't noticed, I understand the process in Russia quite well thank you and that is why I can debate you on this issue.  We are just not in total agreement over the democratic process going on in Russia.  

What is worth noting though is that some people tend to get all emotional when their country is debated.  I can understand that if it had been slander and done in an abusive language but when it's done rationally and in a civil manner I shouldn't be to hard engaging in a debate based on facts and rational opinions.

As I have said before it is perfectly possible to continue the process of democratic reform and at the same time uphold law and order.  In stead of shutting down democratic processes Putin could and indeed should use the legislation more because this is plausible and needed, but within the framework of the constitution and according to rule of law and not according to personal preferences.  

I do think that Russia have to change gradually while at the same time not roll back the democratic process.    

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 07:09:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ни ты, ни один другой человек здесь - кроме blackhawk  не понимает условия в России.

Бесполезно с вами разговаривать.

Прощай.

by slaboymni on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 08:43:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you please translate your comment so that some of us here who do not understand Russian can read it.

Thank you in advance.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--

by tzt (tzt) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 08:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Something about Blackhawk actually living in Russia?

This comment is provided as is, with no warranties, expressed or implied, as to its correctness, or suitability for any particular purpose, yadda, yadda.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 08:56:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It says something like:  Neither you nor any other person here - except blackhawk - understands conditions in Russia.  It is useless to talk with you.  Good-bye.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 09:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, what's useless is talking to someone who insults anyone who disagrees with him and who claims that his own point of view is the only possibly valid one.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 08:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not "debating" you.  Were you in Russia during the transition period?  Did you see it firsthand?  Let me assure you it is quite different seeing the mass suffering in person, rather than reading about it in your morning paper while sitting in your nice safe apartment/house with a full stomache and no one shooting at you and your kids every day.

That's a tremendously patronizing attitude.  So only people who are actually present during a transition have the right to opinions about it?  That would appear to invalidate your opinions about the current situation in Belarus, since you've said you're in America right now.  

That would also mean that I am the only person on this site (that I know of) who would get to have an opinion about Iraq.

And that is ridiculous.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 07:14:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series