Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

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
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