Monday, December 13, 2004

Orange revolution in Russia? Not too soon

Having read this article at the Star Bob Tarantino writes:
A victory for democracy has been won in Ukraine. Perhaps it is now time for everybody's attention to turn a bit farther east.

I'm sure, in the wake of Putin's recent moves to abolish a few vestiges of the decorative democracy on the road to the full-fledged authoritarianism, the slogan "support democracy in Russia" will soon come into vogue.
But I wouldn't hold my breath for an Orange revolution happening in Russia any time soon. Here's why:

- unlike Kuchma, deeply unpopular prior the elections, Putin has retained a great deal of popularity that brought him to power in 2000. Yeltsin took heat for any calamity that occurred in the 90s regardless of his personal involvement. Beslan, Kursk, Nord-Ost, all failed to shake his grip on power in Russia.

-born in 1991, Ukraine appeared to many as a sort of quasi-state. So was said of the Ukrainian nation. Recent events have demonstrated that Ukrainians are a nation in a sense that there is a significant proportion of the population that truly cares about their country and its future. By contrast, Russia has always been a 'real' state, a superpower, even if after 1991 it was a superpower in retirement.
But there's no nation in Russia. Everybody minds his own business and politics is a dirty words for many after all the disappointments of the 90s.

- Russian opposition has no credibility. Such politicians as Boris Nemtsov, Irina Khakamada, Anatoly Chubais have lost it. Most Russians perceive them as arrogant, smug, and morally corrupt.

- my last point is about the political reform adopted by Putin. From a Western point of view it seems outrageous to de-facto demolish the federative nature of the state and to exercise nearly dictatorial powers by appointing local governors. But I shall remind the reader two things:
Russia has never been a real federation, save for the last 10 years.
Presidential administration has already been able to fully control local elections. In St. Petersburg for example, Kremlin's favorite had a free ride in the governor elections as another potential candidate who might've had a slight chance to upset her victory had been discouraged from running.

To sum it up. I see no viable political force in today's Rusia that could challenge Putin. So hope for democracy, but don't hold your breath!


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