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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.
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