Robert Amsterdam points to a just-published report from Freedom House which, once again, condemns Putin's Russia for destroying civilized government in favor of crude authoritarian dictatorship. It seems Russia's rulers have such contempt for the people of Russia that they don't believe they can govern themselves. Now THAT is real "russophobia."
Russia's scores in all four of the main categories (accountability, rule of law, transparency, and civil liberties) fell significantly (see page 13 of the PDF) when compared to 2005 and Russia did not manage one single score as high as "4" on the scale of 1-7 (with 7 being best) in the 13 subcategories that establish the four main categories. It was below a score of "3" in all but six. A score of "5" constitutes the "basic standard" of democratic governance.
As summarized by the Financial Times, the report states:
Russia "has come to resemble the autocratic regimes of central Asia more than the consolidated democracies of eastern Europe". For the past two years "Russia could no longer be considered a democracy at all according to most metrics", and is less democratic today than it was in 2005. It highlights the high threshold for parties to be elected to the Russian parliament, opacity in the award of broadcasting licences, corruption, the rareness of jury trials and uneven enforcement of property rights. "Civil society has been a clear target of the Russian government over the past two years," Freedom House says.The Associated Press adds:
Russian President Vladimir Putin's governing concept, called sovereign democracy, "contains little in the way of genuine democratic governance (and) is also held out as a model for hybrid regimes and autocracies on the Russian Federation's periphery." In other words, several of the former Soviet republics. HIV/AIDS, a rapidly shrinking population, and runaway corruption that touches virtually every sector and eats at society's fabric also put a drag into the Russian system, the analysis said.So, in the ideological manner of the USSR, Russia is not only abandoning civilized values itself, but it is seeking to influence other nations, previously under its jackboot, to do the same.
Meanwhile, the World Bank also came out with an evaluation, this time for "ease of doing business." As the Moscow Times reports, Russia placed 106 out of 178 countries surveyed and its scores declined in half the ten categories under reivew. The MT states: "In ease of getting business licenses, Russia ranked 176th out of 178, one place ahead of Ukraine. Although Russia performed comparatively better than other Commonwealth of Independent States countries on the ease of paying taxes, it still ranked 110th out of 178 countries worldwide. Georgia, which last year was ranked the fastest-reforming country in the survey, was fifth this year, remaining one of the stellar performers for simplifying business regulations, easing tax burdens and increasing access to credit."
The report states:
The survey, titled "Doing Business 2008," looked at 200 regulatory reforms in 98 economies that reduced the time, cost and hassle for businesses to comply with legal and administrative requirements. The rankings also track indicators of time and cost to meet government requirements in business startup, operation, trade, taxation and closure. Russia's fall in the rankings comes from a reluctance to continue reforms and complacency associated with its resource-fueled economic boom, said Simeon Djankov, the lead author of the report. "Russia was doing quite well in the period between 1998 and 2000, when President Vladimir Putin took over the reins of power, but since then, only two reforms -- tax and credit information -- actually took place," Djankov said. "The period of slowdown in reform is consistent with the [period] of increase in oil revenues."So Russia was doing well before Putin became president, badly afterwards. Its scores continue to decline every year throughout his rule, yet he only becomes more and more popular with the Russian people.
There's only one word for that, folks: suicide.
Meanwhile, how can any thinking person possibly believe that a country with these kinds of scores can be fit for membership in a group like the G-8 or the World Trade Organization?