Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Democracy and Russian Culture

Before anything else is said I would like to point out that this is simply an OPINION nothing more.

These two men are Dimitri Medvedev and Vladamir Putin: the leaders of the Russian Republic and it is clear from the actions of these two men that Russia will never become a Western captalist Republic so many Western leaders hope it will become and the Russian people are fully aware and accept this. Although, Medvedev took over the job of Putin in 2008 in a "fair" election (taking over 70% of the vote) the incumbent hand picked Medvedev and will still be a force to be reckoned with in Russian politics as Russia's prime minister. As president of Russia Putin took every step to squeltch political opposition and any potential outside threats to his power as well. This is evident in the alleged poisoning of the now elected Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchentko, Russian beligerance in Georgia, and the alleged assasinations of several exiled powerful Russian bussinessmen. All of these actions were accepted and even applauded by the Russian people. Although Russia has the trappings of democracy it is not and never will be.
There are two reasons why Russia will never be a democracy. First there is a short term reason: the nature of Russain capitalism. Even a cursory glance at the nature of business dealings in Russia will draw comparisons to the American Wild West. Many people have gone as far to say that Russia is not ruled by government but rather by controlling business intrests. Putin has gone after these so called oligarchs with a vengence, imprisoning some, forcing legislation that caps their intrests, and even going as far as killing some of them off (although he most likely denies this). Putin and his successor act like authoritarian dictators because they have to be. As long as Russian capitalism exists the Russian government will never embrace true democracy according to the Western ideals.
The second reason why Russia will never become a Western democracy is due to the multi ethnic nature of Russia. Because it is so huge the Russian Republic has swallowed up large numbers of non Russian people. Even after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 non Russian people make up 20% of Russia's population of 140 million people. True Western democracy reflects the will of the people and in several parts of Russia the will of the people is to seperate from the Russian motherland. This desire to break off from the government in Moscow is best shown in the long drawn out conflict in Chechnya. The Chechins do not want to be part of Russia and want to form their own state. Moscow reacted in a very non-democratic manner and occupied Chechnya. Not only does the Russian government have to contend with problems within its borders but it also must keep the countries it considers to be within its "sphere of influence" (Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia etc.) in line. Although democracy is a good form of government it is uneffective and incapable of swiftly reacting to many of the problems Russia faces today. If Russia were to become more democratic along Western lines it would be a much smaller nation, somthing no ethnic Russian would want to see.

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