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Tragicomedy in Minsk

by Sirocco Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:58:23 AM EST

From my local paper, for connoiseurs of the absurd. "Enjoy" this might be the last time in Europe.

Jailed for swearing

Eystein Røssum, Bergens Tidende, March 23

Translation by Sirocco

I heard him swear out loud, says the clean-shaven man in black standing in the middle of the floor. The courtroom is tiny with barely enough room for the judge, the defendant, his attorney and an audience of seven.

The policeman belongs to a special unit in the Belarussian riot police. He is testifying about what transpired on Tuesday night when he arrested the newspaper editor Andrej Dynko at October Square in Minsk.


Did you see him getting off the bus? the defender queries.

No, but I heard the swearing, says the policeman.

How can you be sure it was Dynko that sweared? Surely a lot of people were getting off the bus?

Yes... Ehh... I recognized his voice.

PEN employee also sentenced

Barely an hour later, the author and office manager of the Belarussian PEN Club, Irina Darafeichuk, is escorted out to the prisoner transportation awaiting at the backdoor. She is also alleged to have sweared.

Seven days. It's madness, she has time to say.

It is a crime in Belarussia to use especially profane words. The defender Darina Hulata would like to know what the editor actually said.

I will not allow that question, judge Jelena Krajchik cuts her off.

Surely we should get to hear what he is in fact accused of? Perhaps it wasn't so foul?

This is a court of law. It's a crime to swear in court. I will not allow it, says the judge.

And so it continues in Room 42 in the courthouse of the Savietski district in Minsk. The two police witnesses give widely divergent versions of how the 32 year old was arrested, nor are they able to specify whether the swearing was in Belarussian or Russian. Two of the four witnesses for the defense, who are all prepared to take oaths that the editor said nothing profane, are refused testimony.

Impossible to survey  

In any case it doesn't matter much. Everyone in the courtroom knows the real reason why the editor is standing trial: he was on his way to support the protesters at October Square, and besides he runs a small independent weekly Nasha Niva which the regime has long since banned both from news stands and public distribution.

President Aleksander Lukasjenko has chosen a sophisticated strategy for quelling the demonstrations in downtown Minsk: people are arrested arbitrarily underway to or from the square, quietly and well away from the cameras. Then they are prosecuted, either for taking part in illegal demonstrations or for foul language. The trials are dispersed among many different courthouses the number and schedule are difficult to survey.

Bergens Tidende was the only foreign press at Dynko's trial on Wednesday. When the party chair Anatolij Lebedko was sentenced the day before, we were joined by a Georgian colleague.

Allows the camp to stand

The editor Dynko is in tears as he stands between stern policemen in the hall, awaiting his verdict.

Lukasjenko could have cleared October Square in minutes. Instead he shows the world that the tent camp is allowed to stand. But everyone knows that it is dangerous to go there. And when all the foreign reporters have gone home, he will take what is left of the camp, Dynko says.

A prison sentence on the record can be devastating for one's studies or career. Noone knows how many are jailed in all the opposition believes it is close to two hundred.

Dynko gets ten days. Waiting outside in the bluewhite prisoner bus are today's nine other convicts from the Savietski district. Dynko gives the V-sign to his wife and friends, who have come to see him. Then the police drives off with ten political prisoners.


Display:
Thanks for the translation, Sirocco.
It's going to take a lot of brave people to get rid of this ugly regime.

I'm not sure this was mentioned over here, but I read that 5 EU ambassadors showed up on the demonstration place (it's mentioned briefly here).

What can be done against this "soft repression"?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:11:39 AM EST
It's going to take a lot of brave people to get rid of this ugly regime.

That, and putting together a credible alternative narrative, and mass mobilisation. Not now, sadly. Maybe next time, or there'll be a revolution in-between.

What can be done against this "soft repression"?

Being bold to face it, and getting many willing to face it.

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

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lukashenka regime is the last remnants of authoritarianism in Europe.  I just hope the outside world will exert enough political pressure on it while at the same time actively support the democratic forces within Belarus.  Hopefully they will manage to topple this regime in a peaceful way like in the Ukraine, although I have my doubts.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:17:28 AM EST

The Lukashenka regime is the last remnants of authoritarianism in Europe.

Thank you for quoting verbatim the neo-con line on this issue.  PNAC, and Bush, would be so proud that their propaganda has even penetrated so-called liberals.

Has it ever occurred to you that Lukashenko is genuinely popular in Belorussia?  Salaries are regularly paid to ordinary workers (not extravagant salaries to CEO's).  The GDP grew at 8-9% last year - better than any western European economy.

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

I do agree with you that the demonstrations smack of the Ukraine's Orange "Revolution", in that they are also probably funded by western governments/multinationals wanting to cash in.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Peter Lavelle's take, for what it's worth:
Untimely Thoughts: The complexity of Belarus' election (March 18, 2002)
...
First, yes the majority's choice should be accepted...
Second, there is no indication that the vote is anything but fair...
Third, yes, people vote with their pocketbook...
Fourth, Belarusians aren't cut off from the world...
Sixth, the West (EU and US) are good at talking, but are short on actions...
Seventh, Belarus' "economic miracle" is all but spent...
Eighth, Luka's system is weak and its political assault on society increases the likelihood that political change could be quick and violent in the medium term.
...


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 Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for quoting verbatim the neo-con line on this issue.  PNAC, and Bush, would be so proud that their propaganda has even penetrated so-called liberals.

Has it ever occurred to you that Lukashenko is genuinely popular in Belorussia?  Salaries are regularly paid to ordinary workers (not extravagant salaries to CEO's).  The GDP grew at 8-9% last year - better than any western European economy.

The fact that neocons say something doesn't mean it is necessarily false and liberals are not swallowing the neocon line anymore than the neocons are swallowing the left's line. As for Lukashenko's popularity - I don't think many people are seriously disputing that he is popular and would win a fair election. But just because a dictatorship has majority support does not mean it is a democracy.

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

There are various reasons why  the EU and the US supported the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and are supporting the opposition in Belarus, but cashing in is pretty low on the list.  Those in the EU who support neo-liberal economics in general, want them applied in Ukraine and Belarus, those who oppose neoliberalism don't - it's purely incidental to the support for democracy. The main two reasons for US and EU policy are genuine idealism and the strategic aim to expand the EU influence into a buffer zone between themselves and Russia.

by MarekNYC on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:42:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never seen a more contradictory statement than:


But just because a dictatorship has majority support does not mean it is a democracy.

Besides the fact that a dictatorship does not even bother to hold elections in the first place...

That takes some real mental gymnastics when taking into account your other statement:


As for Lukashenko's popularity - I don't think many people are seriously disputing that he is popular and would win a fair election.
by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:11:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never seen a more contradictory statement than

It's no contradiction when the process in which the majority is supposed to express its will is rigged. Check the previous Belarus thread (by soj yesterday or the day before, on the frontpage) for more on this (discussion between me and blackhawk).

Besides the fact that a dictatorship does not even bother to hold elections in the first place...

Most dictatorships of the 20th century held elections. Sham elections, rigged elections, but elections.

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

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:38:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They hold sham and rigged elections to be able to claim legitimacy. (Even Hitler did that.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Sham elections, rigged elections, but elections.

By your definition, Bush is just as much a dictator as George W. Bush, as is every other leader of a western "democracy".

It's funny how "democracy" means "will of the people", presumably the people of the country holding the election.  Yet somehow everyone in western Europe holds the paternalistic attitude that they know best what kind of "democratic" political system should be imposed on the Belorussian people - again, for their own good.  They're just too stupid and backward to be able to elect their own leaders.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That should read "Lukashenko is just as much a dictator as George W. Bush".
by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you'd find people here who might rephrase that to "Lukashenko is just as much a dictator as George W. Bush would like to be".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:42:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Living in the US, I can honestly say that Bush is probably more of a dictator ;-)
by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:44:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do Democrats hold no power? Did police prevent the exposure of his stealing of elections by pollsters and vote analysts? I think he is less of a dictator as yet, though one with much graver consequences for the entire world.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Did police prevent the exposure of his stealing of elections by pollsters and vote analysts?

Hah!  The situation is even more hopeless than that.  Even though the Dems hold no power, they completely support Bush (some - ahem, Hillary) I would even consider to be to the right of W.

And, yes, the DOJ is perfectly aware that the statistical probability of the vote outcome in Ohio is about like being struck by lightning in Moscow in January.  They didn't do anything.

Quite the opposite, MSM outlets constantly trumpet the truth of anything W says, no matter how outrageous.  I've lived in Russia and I can say that US propaganda is much more powerful and far-reaching than anything the Soviets ever achieved.  And the worst part is that it's voluntary on the part of the megacorps controlling the MSM!  They're not being forced to write this drivel, as the Soviet propagandists were.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:03:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even though the Dems hold no power

They have several governors, and blocking minority in federal assemblies.

They didn't do anything.

They didn't prevent others from learning it either. OK, a few millions learning the truth didn't shake their power.

I can say that US propaganda is much more powerful and far-reaching than anything the Soviets ever achieved.

On that, fully agreed.

They're not being forced to write this drivel, as the Soviet propagandists were.

That's part of why they are so much more powerful: with 'communist' propaganda, we were always conditioned to try to read between the lines, but with US MSM propaganda, there is the myth of objectivity and independence and competition of opinions.

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

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:11:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dems do not have a "blocking minority in federal assemblies".  You haven't been to DailyKos in a while have you?  There is constant bewailing of this fact there.

Of course they prevented others from learning about the voting fraud.  Ask any American on the street about it now.  You will get a stare even blanker than the one you would get if you asked them the mathematical significance of PI.  They'll ask if your tinfoil hat is on too tight.

The fact is that they are a token opposition, no different than that in Belorussia.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush is a dictator, OK, but your sweeping generalizations are a bit too sweeping for my taste.

I haven't proposed what type of democratic political system Belorussia should have, but one in which fake polling organisations conduct exit polls to prove ridiculous results and then opposition supporters and media people are arrested for swearing is definitely not one.

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

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:51:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The main two reasons for US and EU policy are genuine idealism and the strategic aim to expand the EU influence into a buffer zone between themselves and Russia.

And, by the way, why do you need a "buffer zone" between western Europe and Russia?  I thought the Cold War was over.  This is just another example of trying to kick Russia while it is down - and down due to western policies and advice.

Who's expanding militarily?  Hmmm, not Russia.  If anything, it is Russia that has a legitimate need for a buffer zone against American / European imperialism on its borders - and inside them using NGO's.

by slaboymni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:53:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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 ]


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