Russia is Exporting Dictatorship
The democracy defenders at Freedom House have released a devastating new report on Russia, entitled Undermining Democracy and lumping it together with rogue nations like Iran and Venezuela, its allies, as states which are aggressively, ideologically, seeking to destroy the institution of democracy both at home and abroad. FH had already released a report detailing how the Putin regime has continued to wipe out democracy within Russia’s borders, and now it shows, beginning with the example of Russian aggression in Georgia, that the KGB Kremlin is not satisfied with exterminating freedom within Russia’s own borders.
Brutally subtitled “Selective Capitalism and Kleptocracy,” the FH report lays bare the barabaric conduct of the Putin regime in seeking to replicate itself like a virus thoughout post-Soviet space.
Just as the Soviet Union used to do, Russia is not content with destroying civilized society within its borders but feels threatened by the existence of democracy anywhere on the planet and is lashing out against it. This is the predictable final act in the transformation of Yeltsin’s Russia into neo-Soviet Russia, led by a “president” for life named Vladimir Putin.
Russia cannot win such battles with reasoned argument, just as the USSR never could, so Russia turns to brute force. It murders dissenters within Russia and it rolls tanks into countries that border Russia. It behaves in the manner of a savage just as the USSR did, and the consequences for Russia can be no happer.
FH points out that while the global economic crisis has devastated the Russian economy, it still gives Russia the opportunity to exploit the weakness of the much smaller nations in post-Soviet space who lack Russia’s raw material wealth. What’s more, since the possibility of “systemic failure” in Russia is “quite real” as FH puts it, Russia is dangerousl desperate and capable of actions that are self-destructive and irrational. Fundamentally corrupt, the Putin “kleptocracy” recognizes no moral constraints and does not necessarily act in the best long-term interests of the nation as a whole. The same, of course, was true of the USSR. Page 58 of the report provides an invaluable chart laying out the connections between all the major Kremlin power players and the core aspects of the national economy.
FH states that Russia’s threats to its neighbors are “numerous, ranging from the encouragement of dictatorial regimes and the export of high-level corruption to political meddling and even military intervention.”
FH reminds us that, for instance, Russia had no hesitation in becoming directly involved in the 2004 presidential campaign in Ukraine, acting on behalf of the pro-Kremlin candidate Victor Yanukovich. Russia, of course, bristles with outrage whenever any Western forces attempt to support Russian opposition figures like Garry Kasparov, and this hypocrisy was another signal hallmark of the US. In the case of Kyrgyzstan, by contrast, Russia was even more direct, attempting to directly subvert the regime with cash ($2 billion) in order to buy its loyalty. In Georgia, tanks rolled in.
Russia is aggressively seeking to monopolize the flow of natural gas throughout post-Soviet space, and it is just as aggressively seeking to dominate local media, capitalizing on both local economic vulnerability and the legacy of Soviet domination that imposed Russian-language media throughout the region. This effort even includes the English-language propaganda network “Russia Today” and the New York think tank “Institute for Democracy and Cooperation.”
And Russia’s neo-Soviet aggression, of course, is not limited to post-Soviet space. It actively seeks coalition with anti-democratic forces in Iran, Venezuela and Syria, trying to build coalitions of such rogue states in the United Nations and seeking to form its own alliance groups to foment anti-democratic politics and undermine such organizations as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
FH’s conclusion is stark: “Today’s Russia is an authoritarian state where a corrupt and illiberal ruling elite maintains its power through media manipulation and the subversion of the democratic process. An appeal to common interests is unlikely to prove a solid basis for improved relations. Russian authorities have embarked on a campaign to undercut the integrity of standards-based institutions that focus on democracy and human rights.”
It’s clear that the naive Obama regime is walking into a neo-Soviet trap.