Russia is a Barbaric Nation
Last week we reported on the latest “Index of Economic Freedom” published by the prestigious think tank Heritage Foundation. The report ranked Russia #146 out of 179 nations under study, the bottom 20% of all countries in the world, and #41 out of 43 nations in its region — the bottom 5% of that group, in a class with Haiti. It showed that Poland receives 40% more foreign direct investment than Russia per capita because Poland offers investors so much more economic freedom than Russia does.
Freedom House has also recently released its annual review of political freedom, which it calls the “Freedom in the World” report. Only 42 out of the nearly 200 countries under review are classified as “not free” by Freedom House (down from 54 in 1978) and Russia — purported member of the G-8 group of democracies — is one of them, and only 23 members of the “unfree” group received scores lower than Russia. Russia is one of only seven countries out of 28 in its region, Central and Eastern Europe, to receive the “unfree” designation. Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia and Latvia are all given higher scores for political freedom than Russia.
The shame and humiliation that comes to Russia as a result of scores like these from highly respected international organizations ought to be far too much to bear. Even without considering Russia’s massive economic collapse of the past six months, with soaring unemployment and inflation and plummeting stock market and currency values, the people of Russia ought to see the need for regime change. They ought to be able to recognize that being governed by a proud KGB spy has done nothing but to alienate and polarize the entire world against Russia, so that now the civilized world views Russia as a barbaric banana republic.
But they can’t seem to manage this, and that seems to confirm the world’s worst suspicions about them.
Its interesting you compare Latvia and Estonia to Russia! The former are democratic countries, latter is not, you cant put it to the same league with others you mentioned.
And how Georgia is not democratic? While i was there, almost all media spheres were criticizing Saaklashvili, and everybody spoke whatever suited them. In fact, I have never seen so much criticism and plurality (political parties and millions of diverse opinions) in any given country. No comparison as well to Russia, where journalist are killed routinely!
Luis, I agree entirely.
Given what the opposition in Georgia routinely say about Saakashvili, if they were in Russia they would fairly quickly suffer a “9mm brain haemorrage” courtesy of the FSB.
There is huge debate in the Georgian media (most of it critical of the government) regards Saakashvili signing a deal with Russia over joint operation of the Enguri hydro dam. Can you imagine anyone criticising Putin over anything and not being punished for it under the “new” (1930’s style) treason & terrorism laws in Russia?
Georgia is a democracy, although it is not yet on the same level as the baltic republics. We need to remember that Georgian democracy has had a far more difficult birth than those of eastern Europe, with invasions from Russia in Abkhazia & South Ossetia during the early 90’s, and again in 2008. Constant attempts have been and are being made by Russia to undermine Georgia, and aside from US support, Europe has been doing its usual trick of all talk, no action.
The severe dificulties faced by the Georgian people, particularly the agression & interference from their big northern neighbour, make their acheivements in democratisation all the more remarkable and worthy of our support.
I salute what’s happened to Georgia. I’m just reading a new biography of Mayakovsky (Stavka-zhizn, by a Swede), and it has a very evocative opening about his childhood in Baghdati, Georgia, which just makes me want to visit Georgia even more. I’ve also just received Lincoln Mitchell’s book on the Rose Revolution, which I’ll start as soon as I’ve time…
I couldn’t have put in any better wording and brief analysis as you did. Indeed, your small diagnosis of Georgia’s unbreakable calamity of being so close to its enormous adversary, which only deems this country to be obliterated, will definately not only hurt but also undermine the determination of the country to succumb its Soviet past and proceed towards Democracy as the Baltic states did. The Baltic states did not possess such obstacles as Georgia is facing since its independence. Gamsakhurdia’s Presidential oath did not yet finish, when Russian backed coup was organized and plunged the country into unseen chaos, reminding Chile of Allende/Pinochet period. And as you mentioned, devastating wars in Abkhazia (where 10,000 of its citizens were massacred and more than 350,000 expelled ) and in South Ossetia, where not a single Georgian village or its inhabitants remain. Grim and tragic reality indeed, what else can I add.
Georgia is one of the most fascinating, unique, picturesque, mystic, romantic and exotic places I have ever visited from my home in Canada. Highly recommend to visit this ancient country some day. I have not found parallels to its culture. I haven’t read Mitchell’s account of the Rose Revolution but im sure its exaggerated and out of context. You see, western journalists and historians tend to over simplify the events in Georgia and fail to offer a realistic, balanced account of the past events in Georgian politics, economy or its centuries old past.
Andrew, Georgian democracy was delayed by pretty authoritarian regimes of Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze. Something that Easetern Europe (including Baltics) were able to avoid.
Well I have a problem with the statement above :) With all due respect of course to Felix :) Gamsakhurdia made serious political mistakes and miscalculations due to his incompetence and sometimes stupidity, however he did not enjoy enough time to be authoritarian. The only people he managed to arrest for reasons of politics while he was a President for a very brief time was criminal/mafia boss Ioseliani, terrorist-saboteur Kitovani, truck driver wanna-be President-gangster Kitovani and street hooligan/drag dealer Khaindrava. Frankly, i would have arrested them too and disband their criminal, well armed gangs which later terrorized Georgian population fore the next 3 years, until the “Grey fox” ended their reign of terror.
As for Shevardnadze, he had what we call a soft-authoritarian regime. We must not forget that only during Shevardnadze’s presidency did we seen NGOs growing like mushrooms left and right in Georgia, emergence of free media (TV station Rustavi 2), consolidation of the political opposition and its amalgamation with civil society and NGO movements which created a potent force, capable of effectively removing Edward from his presidential chair. Also, I should mention that, while today we see gross Human Rights violations, regarding illegal extradition of Chechen refugees (by EU, Azerbaijan and even Georgia) back to the death camps of Kadirov, Shevardnadze kept and protected all Chechens from being sent to Chechnya. Therefore, I wouldn’t say that Shevardnadze or Gamsakhurdia were authoritarian rulers like Putin/Medvedev, or even Turkmenbashi and Kocharian/Sarksian in Armenia. I would call them, semi-authoritarian, or soft-authoritarian. Plus, Gamsakhurdia, could not have been a democrat (although he claimed to be one) while his country was plunged in the open war with Russia, and drawn into civil war, while there was an enormous political vacuum before he was overthrown by Russian backed gangs.
Their regimes did not deter Georgia’s chances to Democracy, the only main obstacle for achieving the drastic political changes was always Russia, the main adversary of democrats in every corner of the world, not only in Georgia.
Vashaa Luis! An excellent analysis!
But that’s exactly the point: in Georgia (and other countries higher up on the list than Russia) it is possible to disagree publickly with the government, to critisize and mock the guy on top. In Russia, if you do that, worst case: you die, other options: you are institutionalised as a mental patient and they do electric shock therapy or test medicines on you, you are drafted and sent to serve on the Kamtchatka peninsula on a leaking nuclear submarine, you are jailed, you are kicked out of university, you lose your job, you and your family members get beaten up on the streets… etc. etc.
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