EDITORIAL: Russians and Democracy


Russians and Democracy

It’s encouraging to see yet another leader of Russia’s “Solidarity” opposition movement break onto the pages of the Wall Street Journal.  First it was Garry Kasparov, then Boris Nemtsov, and now it is Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Kara-Murza blasts the cowardly Putin regime for purging every single candidate fielded by Solidarity from the upcoming local election’s ballot in Moscow.  He mocks the Kremlin’s ham-handed, neo-Soviet tactics:  “One Solidarity candidate had his own signature discounted as fraudulent. Another’s ‘invalid’ signatures were found to account for 104% of the total submitted.”

He makes the important point that this will be the first major election since the onset of the devastating economic crisis that has paralyzed the entire nation for over a year now.  Obviously, the Kremlin is afraid of a backlash and it isn’t taking any chances.

Then he gets busy.

Kara-Murza writes:

Russian authorities no longer care for appearances. Unlike Robert Mugabe or the late Slobodan Milosevic, who allowed opposition candidates onto the ballot to keep the pretense of legitimacy, Russia’s leaders simply do not care. Last year, during the stage-managed “election” that transferred the presidency from Vladimir Putin to Dmitry Medvedev, both candidates nominated by the democratic opposition, legendary Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky and former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, were barred from the ballot to avoid unnecessary surprises.

He argues that Russians do not support this barbaric tactics:

The myth that Russians do not want democracy is used by Mr. Putin to justify his actions, as well as by his apologists in the West, who maintain that there is no alternative to collaboration with the Kremlin. This fantasy does not withstand the test of facts. In elections to the very first Russian parliament, in 1906, conducted on an unequal but mass franchise, a majority of seats were won by the Constitutional Democratic party, which advocated for a British-style parliamentary system with full political freedoms. Indeed, the czarist government had to restrict, not expand, the franchise in order to reduce liberal influence in parliament, which it did in 1907. The first Russian elections held with universal suffrage in 1917 (three years before the U.S., incidentally) resulted in a crushing defeat for the Bolsheviks, who had usurped power by force of arms. In 1991, when Russians directly elected their head of state for the first time in history, opposition candidate Boris Yeltsin won on a platform of democratic reforms, beating the then-ruling Communist party nominee by 57% to 17%. Even the 1993 parliamentary elections, usually remembered for the first-place finish of the ultranationalist party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, showed significant support for pro-democracy parties, which, combined, received 40% of the vote against 35% for Zhirinovsky and the Communists. And in the 1996 presidential election, Russian voters re-elected an unpopular incumbent when faced with the alternative of a communist restoration.

Even today, with the Kremlin controlling the airwaves, one opinion poll after another shows Russians consistently supporting the basic tenets of democracy, such as a free press and a multiparty system. A June poll by the independent research firm Levada Center showed that 57% of Russians want the return of direct gubernatorial elections—a practice abolished by Mr. Putin in 2004. Indeed, if the democratic opposition had no popular backing, as the regime’s supporters claim, why is it that pro-democracy candidates must be removed from the ballot and pro-democracy rallies brutally dispersed?

So why then do Russians stand mute as they watch their government behave in a way that makes thugs like Robert Mugabe look like Thomas Jefferson?

They must be cowards.

42 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russians and Democracy

  1. What Mr. Kara Murza writes is not supported by facts or logic. Putin & Co. clearly seized power and abrogated the electoral process, as well as got rid of basic democratic freedoms, at least de facto if not de jure. That much is obvious. Putin is clearly supported by a very large majority of Russians, and is supported voluntarily and genuinely. This is also clear, and is supported by many polls and other research.

    And yet Mr. Murza argues that “Russians consistently support[ing] the basic tenets of democracy.” How could that be and how could that be reconciled with the fact that the very same Russians sincerely support a leader who proudly destroyed those same basic freedoms? i don’t get it.

  2. RV, the problem (is it really a problem?) is that the Russians can (i) travel the world, (ii) express privately — and to a large extent publicly — their opinions of authorities, (iii) practice pretty much any religion (I hear there are constraints with respect to some minor faiths/sects but those concern a minuscule number of people; (iv) they have few personal lifestyle restrictions; (v) they are free to do business/ make money (subject to corruption and other constraints for which democracy is not a fast-working cure). The Russians are more free than they have ever been. Some of them are also more prosperous than they have ever been. There is no abrogation of BASIC democratic rights in Russia. And those rights that are abrogated concern the minority. So why would the majority bother about something that does not concern it? Hence, the 70% support for Russia.

  3. …I meant for Putin.

    • See, now thats the problem with Russians.

      They only care about themselves as individuals and are quite happy to throw minorities to the wolves, or dob in the nieghbours on false charges to the secret police so they can take the house and furnishings after the deportation to Siberia or execution.

      As for expressing views of disapproval of the government publicly, not likely. Look at Politkovskaya, Markelov, and all the other reporters, journalists, and human rights activists killed in suspicious circumstances (and most likely by the state).

      There are most certainly abrogations of BASIC human rights in Russia, particularly the most important, the right to life of ethnic minorities.

      The right to self determination (note Russian hypocricy in this regard, its OK to sponsor separatism in neighboring states, but its a death sentence to advocate separatism from the poxed up whore “mother Russia”).

      And so on and so forth.

      Really AT, get an education.

      • Andrew. Yes, the Russians are increasingly individualistic. And there were no dobbing in the neighbors on false charges to the secret police so they can take the house and furnishings after the deportation to Siberia or execution for the last 56 years or so. This is not something the average Russian is concerned now.

        Politkovskaya, Markelov, and all the other reporters, journalists, and human rights activists killed in suspicious circumstances wrote on topics that do not concern the majority of the population, which enjoys most freedom now that it has ever been. They are generally viewed as something marginal by the majority. And yes, the circumstances are suspicious but there is no clear proof that the state has anything to do with it. And as long as there is no such clear proof, the general public will continue to be unconcerned.

        Andrew, as far as the abrogation of the right of life (blah-blah-blah), very few people are killed in Russia because of their ethnicity. Definitely, more people are killed as a result of robberies, general street violence etc. Furthermore, the state clearly does not promote ethnic violence in Russia.

        As far as “the right to self determination (note Russian hypocricy in this regard, its OK to sponsor separatism in neighboring states, but its a death sentence to advocate separatism from the poxed up whore “mother Russia”)” — well, that is difficult to deny. But why should Russians support Putin less because of this and how does this concern the basic rights of the Russians. There is a sense of jubilation “we stuck it to the Georgians”, which is not fully ungrounded.

        As far as my education is concerned as you admitted, you work in in Georgia for a Georgian salary, I work in about 30 countries around the globe and visit all of them regularly. I don’t think there is much wrong with my education (3 master’s degrees).

        • A hell of a lot of people are killed in the north caucasus because of their ethnicity, and then there are those killed by Russian Neo-Nazi scum due to their ethnicity.

          The same Neo-Nazi’s that seem to have the support of United Russia and the security organs of the Russian Federation.

          Racism, corruption, ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc.

          All normal parts of Russian “Kultur” it seems.

          It is a good for the world thing your demographics are so poor.

          BTW, my rate of pay was a concious choice to enable my daughter to grow up in a loving family environment.

          I could earn much more in the EU, US, or ME.
          But money is not the be-all or end all, despite what Russians seem to think.

          • “A hell of a lot of people are killed in the north caucasus because of their ethnicity” — where? Is it really about ethnicity or about separatism/islamism??

            “and then there are those killed by Russian Neo-Nazi scum due to their ethnicity” — yes, but not much. The Neo Nazism is an acknowledged problem in Russia. I, however, have seen no proof that Neo Nazism is state or party supported.)

            “Racism, corruption, ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc.” — Racism is a problem, but as American history shows democracy is not a fast cure for it. The same is with corruption. What parts of Russia have been ethnically cleansed under the current? administration? What genocide has Putin performed?

            In any case, how the problem above concern the majority of the Russians? Since they do not, Putin has the support — that is what we are trying to investigate in this thread.

            As far as demographics are concerned, Russian demographics appear to be better than those in a supposedly more democratic Ukraine, and the trend has been positive.

            Whatever your choice was, you attacked my education level first. If you did not, you would not have to explain your choice. I am managing to earn a lot AND to enable my kids to grow up in a family environment.

            But money is not the be-all or end all, despite what Russians seem to think. — COMMUNIST! (just kidding).

  4. “There is no abrogation of BASIC democratic rights in Russia.”

    Except for the right to vote in a different government. If the US were like Russia, the Republicans would still be in power, and Obama would not have been allowed as a candidate.

    • Don Cox, I fully agree with you. But how many people feel that the right to change the government is their basic right. In my view only the rights I mentioned in (i)-(iv) of my original post are considered basic in Russia. I would expect much outcry if international travel was banned again or if something that limits general consumerism was limited again. The point is that, under Putin, people are better off than they have ever been. In view of this voting in a different government is hardly a priority. Further, its not much worse than it has been in Japan until recently. And what percentage of people votes/ values the basic democratic right to change the government in the US anyway?

  5. Also, can you really abrogate something that has never been in place?

    • You have a point there; yes, perhaps I chose a wrong word when I said “abrogated the electoral process.” Maybe I should have said “never established a fair electoral process.” How is that? Although, my fuzzy recollection is that they did have at least one fair election (when Yeltsin won).

      More importantly, as to your five points, again I have to agree with something you are saying, but you are not quite correct as to the rest.

      (i) free to travel the world

      They don’t have it as a fundamental right, like we have in the West. It’s all at the sufferance of the government. If tomorrow the government decides to close the borders for exit, for whatever reason, ideological or economical (“we need to conserve foreign currency”), do the Russians have any recourse, such as in court ? I think not.

      (ii) express privately — and to a large extent publicly — their opinions of authorities

      Privately -yes, but people criticized the government privately (in their living rooms or kitchens or dachas) even during Brezhnev time, I was told. To have it now is not a great deal of achievement. Publicly — I doubt it. We have numerous examples of people being beaten, intimidated or jailed, among other things, for trying that. They can’t criticize the government without fear of reprisal as a matter of fundamental right enforceable by courts

      (iii) practice pretty much any religion (I hear there are constraints with respect to some minor faiths/sects but those concern a minuscule number of people

      I read they established a few officially recognized religions. Those who know more about that may elaborate. Many other religions and sects (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) are banned. My American psyche, with our belief in anti-establishment and free exercise, does not see this situation as true freedom of religion.

      (iv) they have few personal lifestyle restrictions

      I am not sure what you mean by this; did they allow open practice of homosexuality or what? If that’s what you meant, I heard of police action against a pride parade in Moscow

      (v) they are free to do business/ make money

      Well, you said democracy is no cure for corruption. I don’t know if it’s true 100 %, but the reality is that this right in Russia remains theoretical, and except for a certain elite there is no way to really do business.

      In sum, Russia is basically a police state, perhaps a little bit less so than under Brezhnev, and the public supports it; that is really why the situation is so sad.

      Finally, your analysis is flawed when you observe that “those rights that are abrogated concern the minority” only, as if that was alright. Well, members of minorities are people and citizens too, and you don’t have democracy at all if you don’t adequately protect minorities, at least, in the Jeffersonian worldview. Majorities never need protection, minorities do.

      • On (i) oh, THAT will cause unrest, and the government knows that. In fact, the peculiar thing about the Russian quasi-democracy is that, although there are no institutions to defend such basic rights, the practice was the government — in most cases — has always been responsive to strong public reaction. In any case, you are right if you thing about “guarantees in case of…” and “long-term…”. However, how much do you think an average Russian thinks about such multiple scenarios and long-term perspective. They can travel now. Its good. If this right is canceled tomorrow, they will somehow respond, I guess. No immediate concern.

        On (ii) well, the level of the absence of the freedom of speech is very much overstated. When I go to Russia, I see anti-Putin cartoons, articles etc. There remain anti-establishment papers, radio and internet editions. If you protest, say about Putin’s tax policy, I don’t think you’ll be jailed or sth. Communists, neo-nazis, even liberals conduct protest actions regularly. I strongly suspect if “Other Russia” was to have a demonstration in South Butovo rather on Tverskaya, they would be able to do this, but a low-profile successful meeting would not be in their interests as much as a government-crashed meeting in the center of Moscow. In summary, on this level, everything is much more liberal than EVER befor, except for the “cursed 1990s”. In any case, no censorship of the Russian Empire or the USSR.

        (iii) Yeah, and this is a big deal for — like — the 5 or the 5K — Jehova’s witnesses in Russia. As far as millions of Orthodox and Catholic Christians, Moslems and Buddhists are fine, the issue is seen as totally irrelevant by the Russian populace. In any case, no strict religious laws of the Russian Empire or the forced atheism of the USSR.

        (iv) With respect to this issue, think of Britain or the US in the 1960s. As long as you do not parade it in public, you are fine. There is a powerful gay lobby in the entertainment industry and legal gay clubs in any major city. In any case, nothing much different from a supposedly more democratic Ukraine or Georgia. In any case, no laws against homosexuality as used to be in the Russian Empire or the USSR.

        (v) Well, there is a considerable number of people who do private business. I have no statistics, but nothing like it was before when any entrepreneurship was banned — in any case, corruption or not, its better than ever.

        As far as your last comment is concerned. Theoretically (and for someone who, like I did, took courses in civil society), yes! But what is the relevance of your last point to the real political life in Russia. The government does ignore the minorities’ rights where it can. Does this make the Russian government less popular/ more hated — what do you think?

  6. …well, and I would not call it a police state either. The police/ secret services neither have the capacity not rationale for monitoring everyone as they did in the USSR. An ordinary citizen has much less interaction with those guys than people had in the USSR. If you are not a prominent rights activist, a ne0-nazi or a communist, I doubt you will have any problems with the police. As the number of politically active people is low in Russia, the “police state” factor is not perceived as a concern.

  7. …and finally, you are right about “never established a fair electoral process”. On the other hand, I don’t think people have ever seriously demanded it in view of the fact that they see their liberties as only expanding (see above).

    • I think your explanations make sense, so long as you are just stating what the situation is. I don’t have a feeling you are justifying it. It seems to me, then, that the reason for that overwhelming support that Putin enjoys is that the public sees some improvemnt and is not concerned with law, democracy and human decency.

      That exactly why I (and many others on this board and elsewhere) have so much contempt to Russia and Russians.

      This does have precedent in history. As you remember, Germans truly supported Hitler, so long as he persecuted only Jews, Gypsies, Social Democrats, and gays, but created jobs, built the autobahn and made trains run on time for the rest of Germany (or was it Mussolini who made Italian trains run on time? I am not sure).

      However, all this veneer of “prosperity” may disappear quite easily because it is not based on fundamental things, and anything (war, some yet unknown crisis, price drop for commodities etc.) can easily trigger a true meltdown. Maybe this meltdown has already started. Communists may still return as a result.

      Then, the Russians would have nobody to blame but themselves. They will be reminded that they supported a quasi fascist regime so long as it allowed them to travel and persecuted only minorities and political dissidents.

      • No one can prevent you from despising the Russians, and also hundreds of other nations that are not perfect democracies — it’s your loss, RV. Russia is VERY VERY far from being the worst country, even in the region. The Russians are more free now than they have ever been, and every sizable minority, whether religious or otherwise, is reasonably well protected (sorry the 5K of Russian Jehova’s witnesses).

        The analogy with Italy and the early Third Reich is not correct. There is no state ideology or sense of national unity cultivated in Russia now (and if it is, this these attempts do not appear to be successful). As mentioned above, the Russians are far more individualistic and materialistic than the denizens of the USSR, the early Third Reich and the Mussolini Italy were.

        If you knew a little more about Russia, you would know the return of Communism is totally unfeasible. The concept is pretty much despised across the board in Russia.

        As far as the last point is concerned, given the Russian track record, do you doubt they will get rid of this regime? Both monarchy and the Soviet regime were dismantled by the Russian people themselves. The regime is quite aware of this as well.

        Finally, I never gave you any reasons to say human decency is lacking in Russia. If you want to see the country where this concept is totally despised and ignored, go to India, the world’s largest democracy.

        My prognosis is that Russian democracy will continue to evolve slowly but surely, however. The Russophobic boards you refer to impede rather than speed up this process, however. Nothing breeds fascism more than a perceived external threat. This board definitely contributes to creating such a perception of threat.

        • No state ideology?

          Well the restoration of Stalin’s reputation as a “great Russian leader” kind of belies that.

          Not to mention the “Russia is getting up off its knees” BS.

          Then there is the concept of Russia “having a priviledged sphere of influence” which translates as the right to determine the future of its neighbors.

          Really at, you are like a sugar coated cyanide pill, do you really believe the bumph that you write (some of which I seriously wish was true, like Russia being happy with losing its imperial possessions, but alas is not, just like “Russia is on the road to democracy”), sorry old son, but you are soft soaping the message a little too much to be believable, either that or you are smoking some powerful weed.

          • Andrew, have you seen any Russian war movie recently? Have you spoken to a Russian. No one speaks about Stalin as a great Russian leader. “Russia is getting up from its knees” is a popular motive, but hardly a state ideology like communism or nazism. The “sphere of influence” concept — do you expect the Russians to give this up under any government, democratically elected or not? Have you ever heard of the Monroe doctrine.

            Sugar-coated cyanide pill??? — I think of myself as a thinking individual, without an agenda. I have not been abused neither by Russia, nor by the US. Both countries are my home, and I am comfortable in both of them. I have no scores to settle or hidden agendas. This blog is not more than entertainment for me.

            On your last point — would you deny that Russians are more free now than they have ever been?

        • As for protecting minorities, thats why Putin wants the “Ethnic component” in minority republics banned from state schools.

          Its just the soviet policy of Russification in drag.

            • I also wanted to comment on your remark that “Russia is VERY VERY far from being the worst country, even in the region.”

              I don’t know what the criteria for being the worst are, but let’s say you are right. They, however, are not satisfied with this. They claim they are VERY VERY best in the world. That’s state ideology for you, and facts to the contrary be damned!

              • RV, the criterion is whether I would like to stay/live in the country. I am not sure why “They” are. I met very few Russians who seriously think Russia is the best country to live in. The state ideology you refer to is called patriotism and is pretty much ubiquous — people cannot chose where they were born, so they tend to find reasons to be proud of their native place. There is an increasing number of patriotic Russians, and there is nothing wrong with this. I find it much more natural than the situation in the 1990s when the greatest ambition of any young and able Russian was to leave.

                • There is everything wrong with aggressive patriotism (particularly when there is really nothing to be proud of); it is called jingoism; not that we Americans are fully free of this illness. People cannot choose where they are born, true; but they have plenty of choices other than calling a barn a palace. E.g., leaving is one option.

                  Patriotism justifies everything as you know, hence it’s a favorite tool and the last resort of all kinds of scoundrels, nationalistic fanatics and shiftless politicians everywhere

                  • Fully agreed. I hate patriots of all kinds.

                    • Correction – I don’t hate them, I think they are pretty unwise. Unconditional love for any country is a feeling I cannot understand. I have lived in 4 countries and love all of them, but I would not die for any of them.

            • Here you go at


              “This is the same President Medvedev whose government the year before introduced federal law No.309, removing the so-called national component from the federal “standard” of education. As of September 1 this year, it is no longer the “subjects of the Russian Federation” — or the so-called titular nationalities in Russia’s dozens of ethnic autonomies — who will decide whether the language, history, or culture of their nominally dominant non-Russian ethnic entities will be taught at state schools.

              Instead, individual schools will decide. Or, in practice, the federal Ministry of Education and Science, whose writ runs in those schools. And the ministry has issued guidelines stipulating that no elements of the “national component” are to be taught on state time, as it were.

              What this means for Russia’s 21 nominally autonomous republics and other ethnic minorities represented at other levels is difficult to overstate. Their struggle to retain their cultural and ethnic identities in today’s Russia is truly a desperate one.”


              “UFA, Bashkortostan — Some 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Ufa, the capital of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, to protest Moscow’s policy of removing elements of ethnically specific education from schools, RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

              The demonstrators came from across Bashkortostan on April 18 to protest Moscow’s plans to remove so-called regional and ethnic classes from schools in as of September 1.

              The activists say the decision to ban classes on the history, geography, and languages of the republics may lead to a complete loss of ethnic and linguistic identity.

              The demonstrators adopted a resolution stating that the new restrictions abuse the right of Russia’s ethnic minorities to obtain an education in their own languages.

              People from Bashkortostan’s Ukrainian, Chuvash, Daghestani, and Kazakh cultural centers took part in the protest.

              Tatar organizations in Tatarstan are also protesting the proposed changes to their schools’ curricula. “

        • If you think Communism is not going to return, how come they keep Lenin’s corpse in the Red Square? How come Stalin’s grave is there too? How come they have polls showing immense popularity of Stalin? How come they pass laws prohibiting any questioning of Soviet actions during the war? How come they have a Soviet anthem? How come Putin says that the dissolution of the USSR was a great tragedy of the 20th century (clearly reflecting the public sentiment)? You want me to think of a few more “how comes?”

          Remember history, restorations happened many times before, including England and France. Just wait and see what happens when their economy truly collapses.

          • RV, if you wish, let’s have a look at any particular poll. I assure you there is nothing in them that indicates “immense popularity of Stalin”. Again, if you speak Russian, I suggest you watch any Russian historical movie about the war and the Stalin era and how Stalin is portrayed there. Repressions, terror, mass murder in camps — this is all well known to the Russians. Also, the Russians cannot ignore the industrial and military achievements under Stalin. I guess the best way to express the Russian’s feelings to Stalin is, but vis-a-vis Western critics its probably best summarized as: “Yes, he is a monster and a dictator, but he is our monster and dictator, we paid the highest price for all that happened under him and don’t lecture us about him”. Lenin’s corpse is another issue — if you care to re-read my previous comments, you will see that I mentioned the current Russian goverment makes sure any sizeable majority feels comfortable. As long as our 75-85 year old parents want Lenin on the Red Square, his corpse will be there. Personally, I am — and most of the people I know — are prepared to humor them. Our parents who screwed up the country so much and were screwed up by the country so much deserve their corpse of Lenin, if this makes them a little happier.

            • And what would you think if Germans put Hitler’s corpse in a mausoleum, justifying this by the industrial and military achievements and to humor their 75-85 years old parents?

              • That would be pretty disgusting for the Russians, as he wanted to exterminate the Russian nation. Luckily, the Russians captured Berlin and burnt this corpse. With our allies, we castrated the German nation and made it guilt part of their national identity. Luckily, this has not been done to the Russians, so we can do what we please with the corpses of our tyrants.

                • Just as having Lenin on Red Square is pretty disgusting for all those who suffered under Communist Russian imperialism.

                  It is actually a bad thing for Russia that it has not been educated in the laws and norms of civilised behaviour as Germany was after world war two.

                  • Oh, they will have to remain disgusted until we decide to bury this corpse. I see no evidence whatsoever that Russia “not been educated in the laws and norms of civilised behaviour”, especially “as Germany was after world war two”. Whatever the feelings of the disgusted people are, I definitely do not want any collective guilt complex for my nation.

            • I think i saw something on youtube about Stalin being about number three or four in a poll of russians on the subject of who was the greatest russian ever. Big popular tv poll! And Stalin wasn’t even a russian! LOL Might have been on RT but not sure. Keep in mind “The Greatest Russian Ever.” Yikes!

              • Thank you Corey. That’s what I meant — I also read about that poll — the 3rd most popular Russian ever. That is indicative of immense popularity, isn’t it?

  8. plenty of typos in the comment above — I post while recovering from the flu (the only reason why I have time to post — don’t worry, I will leave you to your Russophobic ranings when I recover). Hope the meaning comes through though — too much trouble to re-type.

  9. I dont understand whats with the Swiss authorities, they are getting crushed from all isde, Libya and the Kadaffhi affair, Germany,France and the US hammering the banking secrecy law. And now they publishing 2-3 pages of the Ru Pres int he most popular newspaper such as le MAtin. http://www.lematin.ch/. This has never happened before and come-on how the Conseil Federal is trying to convince or help here? Its good time the Swiss authorities regain some credibility before its too late

  10. The rashan twisted insanity comes through loud and clear hear.

    Apparently, according to rashan apologists, democracy consists of making people feel comfortable by preserving and glorifying not 1, but 2 corpses, of brutal killers – lenin and stalin.

    And that restaurants are required to change their names upon pressure from local authorities.

    So much for basic property rights in roosha.


    • Elmer, arguing through making deliberate spelling mistakes and through accusing the opponents of being insane cast doubts about your sanity. As far as democracy and preserving corpses, as RV pointed out, democracy — among other things — is about protecting minorities. If Russia has a sizeable minority who thinks any corpses should be preserved and glorified, a democratic government would reflect this fact. Therefore, if Russia were a democracy, I am sure there would be ways to reflect the old Communists’ interests with respect to Lenin’s corpse burial (by the way, as far as I know, Stalin’s corpse was buried long time ago). Also, I am not sure when these corpses were last “glorified” at the state level. On the restaurant issue, I am not sure your link indicates any property rights have been violated. Based on what I know, both the owners of the restaurant (whose title of the property is intact) and the somewhat-crazy local head of administration are both quite happy about the PR. The Communist Party, as far as I know, have actually have condemned the local administration for trying to win popularity with the older generation by such cheap means.

      Both the Lenin corpse and the restaurant story show, however, that the Russian authorities are quite sensitive to interests of any sizeable minority — a function that is carried out by the court system and the elections in real democracies. This, in part, explains the popularity of the regime. What I was trying to say is that its just wrong to portray the regime as a tyranny. It is providing for rights and freedoms, as well as for minority protection. The problem that more mature readers — RV, Penny — point out is that there is no gurantee this will continue, and — safe for civil unrest — population has no means to control the authorities. Elmer’s, Andrew’s and some other posters’ arguments/ complaints are not about the state of democracy in Russia but rather about Russia’s expansionist and imperialist foreign policy. Its difficult to deny that such a policy exists. It, would, however, exist under the most democratic Russian government, as it broadly reflects Russia’s post-imperial complexes shared by the majority of the population.

  11. Oh, this is just so sovok.

    мир всем привет всем

    The sovok insanity lives on –


    Others welcomed Chavez’s critical stance on the United States.

    Andrei Gelbert, an unemployed lawyer, said Moscow’s warm ties with the Venezuelan leader would create a new alliance of like-minded countries to counterbalance the West.

    “It is Russia’s ally against the axis of evil, America and Freemasons,” Gelbert said. “That’s what I think.”

    Andrei added that he believed it was Washington’s aim to neutralize all of Russia’s allies.

    “America and its coalition eat them up, one by one — all the regimes, like Ukraine, all our allies like Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, etc.,” Gelbert said. “When they gobble up Hugo Chavez and Belarus, then probably only Russia will be left.”

    On the other hand, Irina, the 50-year-old director of a small advertising firm, chose to view Chavez’s visit, and his pledge of recognition for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in a more cynical light.

    “You understand that, in principle, it’s all a matter for politicians,” Irina said. “As for the people, my opinion is that I am not against anything. I am only for friendship, good relations, with the people of Venezuela, with the people. As for the political sphere, it’s just a political game.”

    Her ability to assess the situation, Irina added, was necessarily limited because of what she saw as biased news reports on state television.

    “We judge the president [Chavez] from what we see on the news,” she said. “And the news is, shall we say, not always objective.”

  12. at you just loving stalin arnt you? 27 m people died because of him and Hitler

    • Yes, Henry, I am aware of the fact that millions of people died because of Stalin. Also, my father’s and my father-in-law’s families had been repressed by Stalin. I do not recall anything I said during my entire life that would indicate that I love Stalin. In this discussion, I was, however, focusing on the current internal politics of Russia, which, I believe, do not have much to do with Stalin who stopped to be a factor in the Russian political life more than 5 decades ago. Most Russians I know are not defined by their love/hate towards Stalin or Communism. The political debate lines lie elsewhere now. This comment ages you, Henry.

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