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Monday, July 09, 2007

An Uncivilized Country, Part V: They Think Opposition Means Weakness

Russia still has a flickering candle of dissent. Can it become a bonfire? The Los Angeles Times reports:

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, now an opposition leader engaged in a high-stakes political match with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, gamely put the best face on a modest turnout at a recent protest rally. "There could have been many more people here if the authorities did not oppress people so much," Kasparov told a crowd of about 1,500 at the mid-June rally in a downtown Moscow park. "The authorities feel instinctively that if they allow people to march, there will be 1,000, then 10,000, then 20,000, and then everyone will come to the street." City officials had refused permission for a march to follow the rally, and there were more police in attendance than protesters. In April, police arrested hundreds of demonstrators from the same coalition, Other Russia, when they sought to stage an unauthorized march.

Kasparov and his allies appear at times to be trying to trigger what some have lightheartedly dubbed a "White Knight" revolution — a democratic ousting of the incumbent power structure following in the footsteps of Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution and Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution. The chess master and others say they are aiming at nothing less than winning the presidential election in March 2008. Putin consistently enjoys popularity ratings above 70%, but the Constitution requires him to step down next spring at the end of his second term. Most observers believe that voters, heavily influenced by state-controlled television, will endorse whomever Putin selects as his preferred successor.

Likely contenders

The two contenders seen as most likely to win the Kremlin's nod are First Deputy Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei B. Ivanov, who after many months of favorable coverage on state-controlled TV are now the country's most popular politicians after Putin. The most visible potential opposition candidate is former Prime Minister Mikhail M. Kasyanov, who served during Putin's first term. He turned against his former boss after being dismissed shortly before Putin's 2004 reelection and now heads the People's Democratic Union. Kasyanov, a founding leader of Other Russia, said Monday that the coalition had "fulfilled its mission," and implied that he was pulling out of it. The move appeared to mark a bid for top leadership of an even broader opposition coalition that would choose him as its candidate. Kasyanov is "a very experienced and skilled negotiator" and he "will continue negotiations and consultations with other opposition forces with the goal to unite around a single candidate," Tatyana Razbash, spokeswoman for Kasyanov, said Tuesday. Authorities appear nervous about the opposition. For the unauthorized April march in Moscow, 9,000 police officers were called out to control 3,000 protesters.

Range of complaints

The mid-June rally brought together demonstrators from across the political spectrum, including entrepreneurs, former Soviet-era dissidents, students, unhappy pensioners and flag-waving activists from a group that used to be called the National Bolshevik Party but was banned in the spring. "Everyone has their own personal complaint," Kasparov said. "Issues related to tiny pensions, inflation, lack of freedom, lack of security."

Businessman Mikhail Kriger, 47, said he attended "to express disagreement over a lot of things in the life of my country that affect my life. I want to see real news on our television," he said. "I want to elect people in parliament who will really protect the interests of the people and not of a small group of corrupt individuals." He also complained about the long war that Moscow fought against separatists in Chechnya, expressing fear that someday his son could be sent off to "another war that only suits their selfish goals."

Kriger compared the rally with the minuscule opposition shown by Muscovites when the Soviet army moved into Afghanistan nearly three decades ago. "In 1979, only a dozen people came out to Red Square to protest against the invasion of Afghanistan, and most thought their protest was useless," he said. "But a decade later hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets and squares of Moscow, and they toppled the regime." Regime-toppling through elections was the focus of a June conference by Kasyanov's group.

The former prime minister delivered a speech endorsing a wish list of popular policies, including massive housing subsidies, a return to free healthcare and free higher education, an end to the military draft, the defeat of inflation, encouragement of entrepreneurship, a crackdown on corruption, modernization of the country's transport system, production of modern weapons for the army and tax cuts. He implied that the many costly items on that list could be paid for through wiser use of the country's oil and tax revenues. Kasyanov also took aim at the tough line Moscow has taken with its neighbors and the West during Putin's second term. "Just yesterday we were surrounded by friends, partners and allies," he said, "and today we have nothing but enemies." The conference nominated Kasyanov as its candidate to be the standard-bearer for a united opposition in the March presidential election. In keeping with the effort to unite all forces opposed to Putin, a wide range of politicians was invited to speak.

Unpronounceable threat

Among them was Eduard Limonov, a writer who heads the group formerly known as the National Bolshevik Party. Because the group is banned, with Russian newspapers technically not even supposed to print its name, Limonov is often introduced at opposition events as "leader of the nyelzya bolshe proiznosit party," which means "the party that you are not allowed to pronounce anymore." Limonov described Russia today as "a fascist corporate state" and endorsed Kasyanov for president.

The leadership council of Yabloko, a party that has long been prominent in the pro-democracy camp, said in mid-June that it planned to nominate its own leader, Grigory A. Yavlinsky, for president. Some saw that announcement as dooming the opposition's hopes to field a single candidate. But Yavlinsky said it was still possible that "Yabloko might have a common candidate with other democratic forces, and it would be just great if this happened."

Kasparov argues that, despite polls showing much greater support for potential Kremlin-endorsed successors, it is conceivable that an opposition candidate could end up winning in March. This is possible, he says, because Putin's choice of a successor could trigger a backlash from whichever Kremlin factions see themselves as losers.

"The opposition is trying to make sure elections take place. That's the No. 1 priority," Kasparov said in an interview. "I mean elections — not a mockery, not a fake. Elections with debate, with some sort of publicity for opposition candidates, and elections with results that are not written and stamped beforehand.

Possible Kremlin split

If a truly open election campaign unfolds, "I think there's a good chance that the Kremlin factions will split, because they hate each other more than the concept of democracy," Kasparov said. "And they fear each other more than any of the opposition leaders." Some analysts say that Kasyanov, as the former prime minister who presided over the government during what was widely seen as a successful first term for Putin, is well-positioned to draw support from Russia's bureaucracy and political elite should Kremlin unity crack.

Other likely candidates include nationalist leader Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky and Communist Party leader Gennady A. Zyuganov. In a recent poll by the respected Levada Center, the potential Kremlin-backed candidates, Medvedev and Ivanov, were solidly out front of other possible contenders. Only 6% said they would vote for a liberal candidate supporting Western-style democracy, someone such as Kasyanov. Nevertheless, Other Russia is already having an effect by standing up to Putin and openly criticizing him, said Lev Ponomaryov, head of the Moscow-based For Human Rights organization. "Putin hates Other Russia because they are the only ones who come out into the streets and loudly say anti-Putin slogans," Ponomaryov said. "Their main slogan is 'Russia without Putin,' and they keep repeating it publicly time and again."

At the April march, Kasparov's group gained helpful publicity when Russian and foreign media reported on police beating protesters. But at the conclusion of the mid-June rally, Kasparov noted the extremely heavy police presence and told protesters to simply go home rather than try to stage another unsanctioned march. Russia's real political battle, he implied, will begin this autumn, when the presidential campaign begins in earnest. "It's not our defeat," he declared. "It's our necessary preparation for this fall. This fall, they will run away, because fear is entering their hearts."


Kirill said...

Kasparov is not an opposition politician; he is a saboteur. Any Russian politician who takes money from Western agencies and works for an agency to promote "policies, actions, and resource needs that are vital to American security", rather then Russian security is a betrayer.

Maybe the West should consider letting Russians run their own country; Russia doesn't tell Americans who to vote for.

sovorlov said...

I hope Putin won't let those US bribed monsters lay their filthy hands on the country's rule. I'm starting to respect Putin even more and more.

La Russophobe said...


Your words mean nothing because you don't identify an opposition candidate who is NOT a "sabateur." In so doing, all you accomplish is to prove that the thesis of this post is absolutely correct.

You simply can't tell the truth or be fair, can you? It's really very ironic. You attack this blog for being to one-sided and hard on Russia, yet you do EXACTLY the same thing to us. Your remarks are TOTALLY one-sided in attacking us and defending Russia, not blended 50-50 agreement and disagreement as you seem to expect from us.

La Russophobe said...


It's ironic, because we think YOU are the "bribed monster."

Kirill said...

Victor Alksnis and Andrei Savelyev are both fine opposition politicians. It's not my fault that the normal opposition does not feel the need to run a candidate as a result of the positive impact of Putin's policies.

Maybe you (La Russophobe) and whoever else is part of "we" should make a blog about every US electoral district where a candidate runs unopposed.

La Russophobe said...


You are so dishonest and disingenuous that it's really quite breathtaking. You're like a case study in the neo-Soviet man, repeating the tired failed propaganda of the Soviet state.

It's absurd to analogize the most important man in Russia to an obscure American legislator. What's more, if you were the least bit literate, you'd know that there is a HUGE amount of public criticism of uncontested races in the United States, and this is totally absent in Russia (not surprising, since the Kremlin has a chokehold on the media). What's more, what OTHER countries are doing has NOTHING to do with Russia. Don't you Russophile slobs always say "Russia is a different country" whenever a Western virtue is discussed? But suddenly when a Russia vice is at issue, the West becomes very relevant? It's the most pathetically childish dishonesty, one can so readily see why the Soviet state failed.

Meanwhile, when was the last time either of your two "opposition" leaders made a speech criticizing the president. We dare you to link to it.

Adam said...

The problem with Russia right now is it is exhibiting a authoritarian streak. People forget that Hilter used parlamentary and democratic mechanisms to gain power. They attribute the chaos of the 1990's with Democracy, but really obvious and logical standpoint, they should attribute it to after affects of letting the Soviet system ruining their country thus effectively destroying any chances that a stable democracy could survive in the immediate period after Soviet collapse.

This is puzzling to Western observers especially to Americans who unlike Russian, are the most skeptical people in the world when it comes to politicians. Especially politicans with too much power and who have a tendency to silence his opposition through devious methods.

For example FDR, America most popular president, once tried to ram his own justices through the supreme court by forcefully retiring the old justices so that he could push foward his agenda. The public backlash was so severe that it insured that he couldn't and it took a long time for him to recover politically from such obvious grab of power.

This traditions of autonomy and active participation of the American citizentry is what makes America great and what makes Russia; well.....Russia. America does not whore out its freedoms to politicians even extradonarily popular ones like FDR under any circumstances. The people make the country, not the government.

If Russia can't understand this even in the 21 century with a whole encyclopedia of lessons that it should have learnt from its past, well what can we say. Maybe democracy just isn't compatible with Russia. Just be beware of the consequences of going authoritarian in the 21 century. America in the meantime looks across the Atlantic with horror and skepticism.

Kirill said...

La Russophobe,
I live in New York, and while we have "contested" races, I have not heard practically any critiscism for uncontested districts.

Whoever will be the Kremlin candidate will be contested, however it will merely a joke, since the "democratic" opposition does not have any realistic candidates. I challenge anyone to name a good opposition candidate for Russia. Here in New York, I sure don't see much critiscism when some Democrat slides by a Republican challenger that had no chance (Perfect example, Elliot Spitzer. John Faso had no chance even though he was the better candidate, and no one cared.)

Adam, perhaps you should realize that unless all Americans stand up and do something, all residents of America will soon have their policies either rammed down their throats by not only their politicians corporate masters (As already happens today; every 2008 candidate is a joke except for Ron Paul), but also by the tyranny of the "disadvantaged populations" in the major cities and the soon to be leagl illegal aliens. It's really too bad that the percentage of American citizenry that can think past which candidate wil give them the largest welfare check is falling every year.

Adam said...

Kirill. You have many fallacies in your arguements. First of all, even in the in New York. The opposition candidates has a platform, raise money, and broadcast his ideas FREELY unlike in Russia, where a chess player isn't even allowed to travel freely and express his ideas.

If he is a saboteur, don't you trust the Russian people's intelligence to decipher that on themselves. Do you really need to censor him...? If his ideas are truly whack, I would hope Russians would know the difference and marginalize him through democratic means, like say...not paying attention to him instead of physically barring him.

2nd of all, just b/c you think there is a better candidate in New York, doesn't mean that the people are stupid to elect a democrat. New York is a democratic stronghold. People in New York are more aligned with Democrats. He was also ELECTED against a ORGANIZED OPPOSITION that was given all the freedom to broadcast and challenge the incumbents ideas. Maybe the election of a democrat was because people liked him....Ever thought of that?

3rd you don't acknowledge the transparency and dynamism of American political system. Even in New York there are major republican figures. Mayor Gullliani the prime example. The usually democratically aligned people of NEw York City elected a republican mayor because they thought he was a better Mayor. They put past their reservations of the Republican ideology to elect somebody that they thought would be a better mayor. Thats democracy and a prime example of the intelligence of American people, something you have no idea of because of your elitist attitudes readily dismisses that.

I laugh when I see or hear "coporate masters" dictating what American will do Ram down our throats by our master? Many corporations wanted cheap labor and lobbied congress to grant amnesty for illegal immigrants to maintain labor. However 70 percent of the American people including a very healthy majority in the Democratic party registered voters did not want it. Thus it was shot down in the senate and House.

Would this have happened in Russia's parliament? No...because Putin by dubious means put so many of his allies and cronies in power. Putin may be a populist now, but when he does something that the Russian people does not like as a whole, do you think you have a say in his decision or can oppose it realistically? NO sadly

Also let me state that creating wealth and having corporations in America is not contrary to democratic values. A overwhelming majority of the CEO's in America weren't born in the position, the got there to hard work and climbing the corporate ladder. If anything, the presence of big business is symbol of American worth ethic and wealth because coporation like Starbucks were started by hardworking American starting small businesses. However, whenever they get out of line or involve themselves in dubious business practices or political causes, they get either smacked by regulation or by the voters. It happens, its democracy. We don't have a Putin seizing assets for the state.

Kirill, before stating dubious conclusion, research or at least know more about the political system you live in. Don't waste people's times. I am trying very hard to respect your opinions, but its hard when they are shit.

Kirill said...

Adam, I agree with you when you say that Kasparov should not be censored. He is such a moron that it would merely be enough to publicize who he is employed by. However, you have to realize that the depths of censorship in Russia is vastly overstated by the Western press. He gets his little comments printed in leading newspapers like Komsomolskaya Pravda and Argumenty i Fakty, and his voice is even heard in newspapers owned by Gazprom-Media such as Izvestiya. Almost every time, Kasparov and his cronies were offered a place to do their little marches, but they refused because they wanted to cause disruption, and chose to tie up transportation and inconvinience people with their rallies.

As such, we can see that Kasparov has a platform to broadcast his ideas freely, and to raise money (Actually no one in Russia wants to give him money, so he just goes ahead and asks his masters for some.) Ironically, Kasparov got much more media time and attention than any Republican candidate in New York since Gulliani (Let's not delude ourselves into calling Bloomberg a Republican).

The illegal immigrant bill was not "shot down", but was narrowly beaten, even though the opposition to it was monstorus among the citizens. If you honestly think the gang of neo-cons in the exectutive branch, and the gang of pandering democrats in the legislative branch has your interests in mind, you are mistaken. Someday soon, once public rememberance of this bill dies down, those on the top will either quietly pass a bill that includes the amnesty provisions of this one, or will delude Americans into truly believeing that illegal immigrants are just like us and wish to work for the Aemrican Drea, rather than creating crime-infested barrios and sending money back to Mexico.

I actually believe that big business is a positive force in society, as long as the politicians do not sell themselves out to them. If you truly think the American system works, I believe that the next twenty years will be very interesting for you.

Adam said...

Kirill, I take issue with your statement that kasporav can freely raise money and such. This is simply not true. The prime example is that he was not allowed to attend a rally in Moscow because official attempt to physically bar him. If that is not censorship then what is. Problem with a Visa is the official Kremlin line. Yeah right...Do you believe this? You know you messed up when the Europeans out of all people state that they worry about political freedom given their track record in actually supporting press freedom aka China.

Censorship is not exaggerated in Russia. In fact it is under reported. You have journalist killed in sometimes in broad light for voicing opposition views. You have government troops raiding independent newspapers. You have no INDEPENDENT TV station because Putin shut it down. Basically you have no alternative news other than Putin approved news. You also have a obvious climate of physical and political fear in all branches media that are left. How can this be exaggerated? You have an political assassination of a political dissident(even if he was a whack) on UK soil by all that was so blatant in its method and sophistication that even the UK voiced concerns. Judge this by any standards other than Russian standards and it is obvious that Russia has no press freedom.

You also fail to be aware how impossible it is to raise money if all the media against you because they are in bed with the government. I do not know the state of Russian opinion on Kasporav, but what I do know is that he is not given a fair chance because the media skews him for Putin. You can't have democracy without freedom of the press. Without the press you can't raise money. Saying that he is technically free to raise money and voice his opinion like you said is intellectually dishonest.

The thing about the immigration bill. It is true that the senate did blatantly ignore public opinion until the pressure was overwhelming enough they had to retreat. It also true that it was shot down, due to public pressure. No politician wanted the political flak for passing the bill. This is one aspect of the Senate system I am concerned about. There should be term limits, but that is another story. It one thing to conclude the Senate is imperfect, it is another thing to conclude that is not democratic. Thus your statement about the senate is very questionable.

My point is the system has worked relatively well representing the will of the American people and is reflection of democracy. You have citizen watch groups, and free press representing all spectrum of American opinion, to ensure that the Senate answer to the public. If you don't see this, then you don't understand the system. It is not a oligarchy or plutocracy.

The American people have the ultimate say who is in the senate free of threat of violence and intimidation in a climate of honest intellectual debate. If the American people think the Senate system is broken and undemocratic there will be a change. No political party can stop it. The American people as for now don't. The fact that the Senators are rightfully catching flak for views is example that the system is functioning even if it is not perfect.

However, the fact that Americans have real choice is what Russian don't have. This is because you don't a free press by any standards other than Russian standards. You don't have or won't allow viable opposition because they don't have a media to voice their opinion without biases. You don't have choice to either dismiss or embrace Russian opposition because they have the medium to say what they want. If Russian opposition is stupid and traitorous like you said, the Russian people should be able to decide that and marginalize it themselves. Aren't you angry that the Russian government doesn't trust the Russian people enough to let them make the call?

You have only the official voice thus when things goes to shit as it does in every country now and then, will you be able to change your government to meet the times? If something happened in Russia and for some reason Russia wanted Putin and his successor to step down, would they step down for elections? Look deep in your soul answer truthfully.

Please address address either my conclusion or evidence addressing my conclusion. Don't change the subject.

Kirill said...

Adam, you are correct in your point that there is at least some political censorship in Russia. I also agree that this situation should not be accepted. It is my personal hope that Putin is not personally involved in this censorship, but that these acts are the personal initiatives of some bureaucrats with higher aspirations. I would truly be happy if Putin ordered a stop to it, and I am disappointed that he has not already.

At the same time, I think it is unacceptable for politicians to receive foreign money. I feel that the best case scenario would be for all of this censorship to cease, but at the same time, no candidate should be allowed to receive money from abroad.

As any reasonable person, you probably understand that a person can support a candidate even if he does not support him 100%. Those are my feelings on Putin. He is obviously not perfect, but he is leading the country in the right direction.

The overwhelming problem with media in Russia is there is no middle ground. I do wish for an independent media, but at the same time the situation in the early 2000's was impossible to allow. All of the free media was owned by enemies of the Russian people (research what fine people Berezovsky and Gusinsky are, unless you already know). Now, that same problem exists. Any independent media would immediately get snapped up by either the government or the above mentioned forces. I really do not know what a suitable solution would be. There are many relatively independent newspapers in Russia, and there's always the internet and Echo Moskvy (can't stand them, but there needs to be some counter-balance), but I agree that there should be some independent TV stations.

I truly do not feel that the FSB engages in the killing of journalists, as all that would generate bad press. Journalism is a very dirty business in Russia, and it is very easy to get killed if you something bad about a powerful businessman or person in general. See even Anna Politkovskaya. The Kremlin would have to have been mad to kill her, given the outcry that happened. It is much more probable that she got killed by Kadyrov for reporting on Chechnya. Both the opposition and the Kremlin realizes that one dead journalist allegedly killed by the Kremlin will do more damage to Putin that ten live ones.

Kasparov does have the freedom to spread his views, but you are right to note that he faces censorship on TV, which as I stated before, I am against. I should have acknowledged that in my earlier comment.

Speaking of the US, you know as well as me that the Democratic leadership was for the bill, as well as many Republican senators who were betraying their constituencies (Sen Lindsey Graham comes to mind). Even if we assume that the Democrats truly believe they are doing the will of their constituents, we know that isn't the case for most of the Republican senators who voted for the bill (Arizonians are probably overjoyed about the illegal immigrants, especially given how both of their senators voted).

That is why I think that the U.S. legislative bodies no longer serve their constituents as was envisioned in the Constitution. In addition, the American electorate itself is slowly degenerating. In case you haven't recently been communicating with people fresh out of high school, most of them shouldn't even have the right to vote, as they are incapable of forming a valid opinion on the basis of facts, but rather vote based on what's popular, or by whoever will give them the greatest benefit, even if it it causes detriment for the rest of the country. By slowly degenerating the American public, the forces of evil are taking away any choice that educated Americans may have. Soon, the vote of any educated voter (of which you seem to be one, as your arguments are well worded, and you bring up valid points) will be swept away by a torrent of votes unleashed by the common moron.

While I feel the government media is correct now, I realize that that will not always be the case. I truly believe that Putin is interested in the good of all Russians, rather than any private gain, but I understand that an overwhelming majority of people is not like that. The political system that is currently in Russia does not allow a way out. While I feel Putin would react graciously if the people truly wanted him gone, I agree that a future hypothetical successor can abuse the system rather easily. I hope that as Russia continues to make economic gains, and the crisis atmosphere of the 90's recedes even further, we will begin to move towards a sustainable political process. Thankfully, I feel Russia has 8 more years of successful leadership (I feel either Ivanov or Medvedev would be decent leaders) in order to make these changes, but you are right in saying Russia needs change (Contrary to what some people are insinuating, I do not think that Russia's current course is a perfect one). What is most important however, is that outsiders do not interfere in these processes. It is the responsibility of Russians to run their own country, and not that of the horde of "human-rights" activists or foreign politicians.

Adam said...

From an American point of view, we don't question Putin patriotism. We question his stances and attitudes. I fell out with Putin when said, that Russia was a democracy more so than the US because the people can directly elect their president. It sent chills down my spine, because he doesn't see or chooses to ignore legitimate criticism on how Russia is not a democracy. This a calculated decision on his part, and symbolizes either little understanding or lack of respect for real democracy.

Again using foreign influence as a cover for Putin actions is cheap smoke. I find it hard to believe that their is a worldwide conspiracy by the western world to control Russia's media. Also blaming censorship on rogue elements of the government is very disturbing implying a real shadow government within the government. I hope to god and intellectually think that this isn't the case.

The bucks stop at the presidental office, more so in Russia's case given its unusually centralized government. By any standard, if you are the acting president and domestic terrorists are attacking the press of your country which are acts of treason, you have a duty and obligation to stop them. Putin's awkward silence only leaves us foreigners to conclude he is either doing it himself, or turning a blind eye because he is cynically benefiting.

Do you really think that super rare radioactive Isotopes made from government lab used to kill people abroad were not at least known in the Kremlin? I would like to think that Putin knew, if he didn't, then that paints a graver scenario of out of control assassination splinter group in the government. Given Putin's tendencies, if the 2nd scenario was true, would Putin at least have punished to those responsible? We have no peep implying he was directly or indirectly responsible.

Also your concerns about the American electorate are overblown and questionable. You overstate and imagine a sense of factionalism that just doesn't exist in America.
At the end of the day, democrats and republicans don't go out to street and burn down each other media outlets or use intimidation to silence the other side. Republicans lost the elections, but you don't see republicans trying impose their will through intimidation do you? Do you see Bush youths sponsored by the government causing trouble?

This tension has existed since the founding of the nation. It was even worse back then, and despite that, we have never had usurpers or coups. We have changed governments peacefully through election more than 60 times in our history and our constitution is the oldest written working in the Western world. Our sister republic the french, no matter how we admire them, have had 4 republics or 5 since their revolution.

We aren't Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union, that when given the choice to vote decided that the government was so rotten it wasn't worth saving or putting up with anymore. That is study of factionalism my friend, not the US electorate.

Given the state of Russia right now, do you think that this authoritarian streak will improve or get worse in the future? Condition right now are improving mostly because of oil prices. You and I both know that economies based or overly dependent on oil are threatened with becoming banana republics.

The authoritarian streak I argue will only get worse, because a few years down the road, Russia situation will be worse. Disastrous birth rates threatens Russia growth, Russia armed forces will become Muslim(not just any muslims, pissed off muslims from the south who have questionable loyalty to Russia). So on and so fourth. Russia need democracy not because of Western whelms or pressure, it needs it to adapt the changing world, it needs democracy to encourage its citizens, the best problem solvers in Russia and the ones with firsthand experience with Russian problems, to think of the solutions...Not the government. It needs democracy to survive as Slavic state with orthodox roots. For the short term stability of Russia, you sell your soul to man who can potentially destroy Russia in the long term. For Russia's sake and the world, I hope the Russian people will realize this.