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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Putin in a Nutshell

The International Herald Tribune captures Vladimir Putin in a tidy nutshell:

Russia is not merely failing to live up to standards set by the West or by its own Western-oriented intelligentsia, it is failing in crucial respects to live up to Putin's primary aim of modernization. Consider Putin's record on his core pledge to put Russia under a "dictatorship of law" and move away from the corrupt free-for-all of the 1990s. With a score of 2.4 on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (in which 10 is the best score and 0 the lowest), Russia tied with Albania in 2005 as the most corrupt country in Europe. Russia now ranks lower than Ukraine and Belarus. Russia's ranking in 1999, the last year of Boris Yeltsin's rule, was also 2.4. In other words, despite all the rhetoric from Putin supporters about the need to give up a few freedoms in order to break with the "wild east" practices of the Yeltsin years, Putin has failed to make any progress whatsoever in entrenching the rule of law in Russian society.
The writer, Robin Shepherd, is a senior trans-Atlantic fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, based in Bratislava, Slovakia. He concludes: "Commentators have long recognized that Putin's so-called managed democracy was a contradiction in terms. The bigger picture, however, is that the entire Putin project offers up a classic example of an irreconcilable contradiction between ends and means. Putin seeks the goal of a modern, dynamic Russia while simultaneously employing the kind of strategy that leads to political and societal stagnation reminiscent of Russia's past."

Shepard is perhaps taking his inspiration from Nina Krushcheva's recent op-ed column in which she states: "It's time to end the fiction that Vladimir Putin's ''dictatorship of law'' has made postcommunist Russia any less lawless. The murder of Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia's bravest and best journalists, a woman who dared to expose the brutal murders committed by Russian troops in Chechnya, is final proof that Putin has delivered nothing more than a run-of-the-mill dictatorship with the usual contempt for law." She lays the blame for Politkovskaya's killing squarely at his feet: "I am not accusing Putin's government of the contract killing of Politkovskaya. After all, as a campaigning investigative journalist she made many people angry besides Putin; not least of those is Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, whom she accused of a policy of kidnapping for ransom. But even if Putin's associates had nothing to do with her being gunned down in an elevator of her apartment building in the center of Moscow, his contempt for law created the climate in which the murder was carried out. Like the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett in his Canterbury Cathedral many centuries ago, the crime was committed in the clear belief that it would please the king."


Penny said...

Today's Washington Post editorial noting the further crushing of dissent in Russia:

It was interior ministry operatives, after all, who violently broke up a peaceful vigil in Ms. Politkovskaya's memory in the Caucasian city of Nazran on Monday. Flowers and pictures of the slain journalist were ripped from the hands of the participants and stomped on. Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, a well-known activist of the human rights group Memorial, was punched in the face and head; she suffered a broken nose and a concussion. Three days earlier, a court ordered the closure of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, one of the few nongovernmental organizations still attempting to document abuses in that devastated province. On Thursday the government suspended the operations of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and more than 90 other NGOs, saying they had not met the requirements of a controversial new registration law.

La Russophobe said...

PENNY: Thanks for the link! If you are ever so inclined you are welcome to submit material to be published as a post on the blog itself.