Demonstrations in Moscow

You will find an eyewitness description of the demonstrations in Moscow yesterday here.

You will also find a very interesting discussion of the charges by Prime Minister Putin that the United States has been trying to create an “Orange Revolution” against his regime here.

In my opinion these charges are ridiculous, but I also think that it is a mistake to have Americans directly involved as political activists in other countries. To do so weakens the indigenous democratic forces rather than strengthening them since it exposes them to the charge that they are acting as foreign agents.

Senior officials of the United States government have no business passing judgment on the political processes in other countries, so long as the government in question is not conducting egregious crimes such as mass murder, genocide, or ethnic cleansing. Condemnation of Qadhafi in Libya for the violence he unleashed against his people, and of Assad in Syria is appropriate and indeed necessary. But we have no grounds for acting as the world’s monitor of good government.

That does not mean that I believe Vladimir Putin has acted in the best interest of Russia in organizing his “directed democracy.” In my view it is not in Russia’s interest, but that is a matter for Russian citizens to deal with. Outside involvement is likely to backfire.

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9 Responses to Demonstrations in Moscow

  1. Brian Runyon says:

    Jack. You are correct. Vladimir Vladimirovich must not win the upcoming Presidential election in Russia. I would vote for either the former Senator of the A Just Russia Party, or the indipendent businessman.

  2. Jack says:

    I am sure the “system” will ensure that Putin will win, almost certainly on the first round. The electoral authorities demonsstrated in the Duma election their ability to produce results the powers that be demand. The interesting thing, however, is that he could probably win in an honest election, given the rules now in place that disqualify many would-be candidates. Also, there is no coherent opposition. The current opponents include Communists, extreme nationalists, opportunists of various stripes, and very few representatives of Western-style democracy. It is not that they do not exist in Russia–they do–but they have been unable to cooperate to organize a unified movement and the regime has been able to marginalize them with a multiplicity of electoral rules, most of which are applied quite selectively.

    Even if Putin wins, however, his effective authority may be reduced.

  3. Brian Runyon says:

    If you were Russian, who would you vote for? An odd collection of candidates. The current PM, the head of three political parties, one of them being a former Russian Senator, and a businessman.

  4. Brian Runyon says:

    The Russian economy under Putin did get back on track, but he did several political things that a lot of outsiders and critics in Russia didn’t find popular at all. After 8 years as President, I doubt he’d be able to have more without revolution against his rule if he wins the upcoming election.

  5. Jack says:

    Support for Putin varies greatly depending on the region. He is still at least moderately popular under working people in industrial cities outside Moscow and St. Petersburg. Many Russian’s think of the 1990s as chaos and lawlessness; they give Putin credit for bringing greater order, stability, and predictability. But his control of the electoral process and of the mass media is not popular among the professional class in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and many other cities.

  6. Brian Runyon says:

    Putin’s charge that the US was involved in last year’s protests is completely false. He appears to be anti-American with statements like that.

  7. Jack says:

    Ever since the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, in which Americans and West Europeans were involved, he has suspected that the U.S. is trying to foment a revolution to remove him. Or-even if he doesn’t believe it, he thinks this is a good way to discredit the demonstrators, by claiming that they are encoraged by the U.S.

  8. Brian Runyon says:

    I prefer the former Federation Councilor, or the businessman to the other three.

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