EDITORIAL: What Russians mean by “Democracy”


What Russians mean by “Democracy”

“I categorically do not agree with those who maintain that there is no democracy in Russia, that it is ruled by authoritarian tradition.  Russia, without a doubt, is a democracy. Yes, it is young, immature, imperfect, inexperienced — but it is democracy. We are at the very beginning of the path.  They tell us about parliamentary democracy. Our Kyrgyz friends have taken the path. But for Russia, as, I am afraid, for Kyrgyzstan as well, parliamentary democracy is a catastrophe.  Nothing needs to be radically changed. Not because it is not allowed, but because there is no need”

–Russian “president” Dima Medvedev, speaking at the “World Political Forum” in Yaroslavl, Russia on September 10, 2010

What does Mr. Medvedev understand from the term “democracy,” which he takes no trouble to define? If it does not include a “parliament” with rival political parties, then what pray tell does it include?  Everyone knows that Russia’s direct presidential elections are shamelessly rigged, so obviously they too are not part of Medvedev’s definition of “democracy.” What is?  What aspect of Russian society is any way democratic?  Governors and mayors are directly controlled by the Kremlin, there is no parliament, no contested presidential elections, no opposition parties, no critical national media.

Perhaps a clue can be found in an AP report which stated: “Anyone who says that Russia has a totalitarian system is ‘either lying or has a terrible memory’ he said. Medvedev said protests were ‘normal’ but had to take place ‘within the limits of the law.'”  So, it seems that when Medvedev utters the word “democracy” he means “not totalitarian” or “not Soviet.” As long as Russia is not as repressive as it was in Soviet times, then, it’s enough of a democracy that, in Medvedev’s opinion, it needs no radical change.

That is sick and perverse.  The “president” of Russia, supposedly a “lawyer,” does not even begin to comprehend the meaning of democracy or rule of law. He believes his country is such a basket case that it is making all the progress it can simply to avoid being a worst-case scenario right now, today.

Then again, maybe Medevedev is right.

34 responses to “EDITORIAL: What Russians mean by “Democracy”

  1. @As long as Russia is not as repressive as it was in Soviet times

    Actually, the Glasnost-era Soviet Union was much more free then the Russian “Federation” under the current cleptocracy.

    • Very true, Robert. I would also add that there were much more possibility for Russia to become a prosperous democratic state at a time by carefully using USSR left resources, qualified people and slowly integrating industry into foreign economies where it was possible. But instead, Russian people had choosen silent obedience to thugs in hopes it will come along well “someday” and “somehow”. Now, after 20 years of slaughter, the rest of the world had gone way too ahead for Russia to integrate. And without working together there can be no modernization in Russia both in authorities and people minds.

      • Yeltsin governments, which failed to “carefully use USSR left resources, qualified people and slowly integrate industry into foreign economies” was fully supported by every US administration of that times.

        What were the reasons, what do you think?

        • Of course it was to completely destroy your Russia motherland and take it’s resources in control. I already responded to one of your comments like this in past (last comment on “Putin openly Threatens Peaceful Protesters with Violence” article) so I’ll just repeat it slightly different.

          With USA help Gorbachev and later Yeltsin abolish communist regime and proclaim newely formed Russia as a free democratic state. Was it inevitable for USSR with it’s backwards economy and corrupted society to break? It was. Was Yeltsin dumb in his fast unthink actions? Yes, since he was a communist with no idea how market economy and free society work. US administration was only there to consult on initial reforms and ensure then-Russia will end with it’s communist stuff completely. No one from US administration took actual decisions, no one took part in terrible thug reforms committed by communists who thought they had become a democrats in one month. The fact that your own government f*ed up every single reform in order to rob people doesn’t make US authorities guilty in any way at all. You were freed from CPSU? Yes. Now, please, go and build your motherland as a honest prosperous state! You got it all: resources, educated people, land. What Russians did in turn? Majority silently obeyed thugs and minority (thugs) engaged a criminal warfare with Putin eventually becoming a so-called president. That perfectly exposes what Russian people are in their deeds.

          You refuse to realize that it’s your own communist government directly tried to demolish and sell out your country. Putin’s Junta are just a bunch of old soviets who weren’t interested in Russia’s demolition. They wanted it to stay but being a backward, fooled country, pretending that they (Puting and KGB) had actually saved Russia from collapse. Putin could easily use recent high oil prices to quickly engage integration and modernization of society. Instead of this, he continues his robbery, corruption and fools people with his Medvedev tamagtochi toy.

  2. Dear Medvedev learned well the immortal wisdom of his teacher, Comrade Lenin:
    “If you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.”
    Or, could it be, that he doesn’t even know the difference between lies and the truth?
    So, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”
    And, Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Putinism has been and still continues as, nothing but a pack of lies, lies, lies!
    And thus, KGB-run neo-soviet Russia and it’s unfree people, continue to be the pity and/or, the laughing-stock , or the dread, of the whole world.

  3. Corruption is not free. People often think corruption is the same as paying a fine to the state, but it is not. It is a direct cost paid by the country as a whole just like inflating or printing money. Corruption is one of the main reasons that Russia is in a direct loss position and is going bankrupt.

  4. Have you ever noticed that russians tend to peddle in half-truths or outright lies? They are a crooked, dishonest people that cannot be trusted to do what is right.

    • “Have you ever noticed that Jews tend to peddle in half-truths or outright lies? They are a crooked, dishonest people that cannot be trusted to do what is right.”

      “Have you ever noticed that Russians tend to peddle in half-truths or outright lies? They are a crooked, dishonest people that cannot be trusted to do what is right.”

      – Goebbels would subscribe under both statements.

    • Yes, you have a Nazi mentality, that’s exactly what I wanted to say.

  5. Racism rules at this site!

    • I did not hear anything said about any race, and anyway coming from a Russian, an accusation of racism is really funny. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black

      • Technically, you are right — no one was making a statement about a different race here, just about a different ethincity. Ethnical hatred is racism in my book, however, and for the lack of (knowledge of) a better term, I will label it accordingly.

        Well, I am not racist, and I deplore racism in Russia and anywhere else. And I will call a racist a racist no matter where I see a racist. There are racists in Russia, no doubt. There are racists in Israel too. This site shows that racism in Britain, the US and other countries. That does not make you — as a Jew and a Brit — or me — as a Russian with mixed ethnic origin — less qualified to condemn racism. On the contrary, I see it as my and your responsibility.

        • I am not British, I am an American. If you, as a Russian, condemn racism (which in your view includes ethically motivated hate), then I can only applaud that. It is also true that racism exists everywhere; however, from what I read it is widely tolerated, or even promoted, by the Russian society. That does not apply to every single individual Russian, of course, but my understanding that the ethnically or color inspired hate is widespread in Russia. Hence, my remark about the pot ant the kettle.

          While there are plenty racists and such in the West, they are mostly fringe elements who take advantage of freedom of speech and press guarantees. Modern Western societies despise and ostracize such individuals. That where the difference between the West and Russia lies in my view.

          • Well said RV.

            A good example of state support of racism in Russia can be seen on (state run) Russian TV, where non Slavs, especially those from the Caucasus are routinely depicted in the most repulsive manner in a highly racist way.

            Most Russians support the “Russia for Russians” slogan, meaning Russia for Slavic Russians. They expect ethnic minorities who generally come from far older cultures to Russify, even if those people are living in their ancestral lands, look at the north Caucasus for example.

            There are a lot of Russians who oppose racism, both state and public, but unfortunately they are in a tiny minority.

            • And Russians in Latvia demanding the Russian-language schools… I wonder what the Russian reaction would be if some ethnic Latvian residing in Moscow started demanding to have the Latvian language public schools

            • @ most Russians support– and how do you know that?

              • The blast that ripped through a small cafe in the Cherkizovo market in eastern Moscow Monday morning killed eight instantly, including two children aged four and five. Two more victims died in a hospital, and the death count may yet grow: eleven of 35 wounded are in extremely grave condition. It was a brutal attack, and many Westerners acquainted with the Chechen rebels’ tactics over the years might at first simply conclude it was yet another front in the war on terror — a random act of violence perpetrated by Islamic militants bent on inflicting as much carnage as possible on the West, be it George Bush’s U.S. or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
                Except that most of those who were killed are Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chinese and Vietnamese — the “blacks” or “churki” (wooden stubs), as Russian Nationalists derogatively call non-white foreigners, and as the increasing number of average Russians casually echo them. On Tuesday, law enforcement officials said they identified the bombers as three young ethnic Russian students of Moscow colleges. The suspects believed, Moscow’s Prosecutor Yuri Demin told the press, that “There are too many Asians” here.
                As repugnant as that may sound, it is becoming an increasingly popular view in today’s Russia. Which is why even if the two suspects arrested are indeed guilty, they might get away with the crime. With 52% Russians supporting the slogan “Russia for Russians,” and with many increasingly sympathetic to those who attack immigrants, the courts may well be lenient. “Racist attacks happen with shocking regularity in Russia, and the government is shirking its responsibilities and failing to confront the problem,” Amnesty International said in its May 2006 report on hate crime in Russia. According to the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, racists murdered 10 people last year and 18 in the first half of this year, not incluing the ten people killed by the Cherkizovo market bomb.

                Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1304096,00.html#ixzz10lqWsewh

                There has been a steady escalation of violent xenophobia in Russia during the last decade – an escalation that can be measured against an already high level of xenophobic sentiments. When asked in 1995, 38 percent of Russians said they supported the concept of “Russia for [ethnic] Russians.” In 2007, 55 percent of respondents expressed full or partial support for the concept, according to the Levada Center, an independent public opinion institute.


                • @Which is why even if the two suspects arrested are indeed guilty, they might get away with the crime. With 52% Russians supporting the slogan “Russia for Russians,” and with many increasingly sympathetic to those who attack immigrants, the courts may well be lenient.

                  Of course. Check out thise band of Russian Nazi serial killers for example. These guys murdered “as many as 20 non-Slavic migrants over a one-year period” and possibly many more, with extreme brutality, one by one, and wounded a number of more in murder attempts (at least 12) while performing their cute miniature genocide, and they got only 6 to 20 years (10 for the ringleaders). Including the one they already served.

                  Some details on these Russian inhuman beings:


                  The defendants have willingly admitted to the 20 murders they were convicted of. In fact, Ryno himself has claimed responsibility for the deaths of at least 37 people.

                  The group targeted non-Slavic migrants in Moscow between 2006 and 2007, posting videos of some of their crimes on the Internet. They were also found guilty of 12 attempted murders.

                  During the closed-door trial, Ryno and Skachevsky said they were on a mission to “cleanse Russian blood.”

                  Another defendant confessed to being a great admirer of Andrei Chikatilo, the famous Soviet serial killer who murdered and cannibalized 52 women and children.

                  Artyom Timushev, one of the defense lawyers, said he was pleased with the trial’s outcome.

                  “I think this case has been quite a success because, while the charges were very serious, none of the defendants, four of whom were of full legal age, received the most severe punishment, that is life imprisonment,” Timushev said.

                  According to Sova, racially motivated attacks have claimed at least 86 lives in Russia this year.

                  • More recruits for the KGB in a few years :

                    “Besides, the killings were carried out in group and with the motive of racial hatred, which means with aggravating circumstances,” she noted. “These people have already served one year; in four years, they will walk free early. Healthy, 25-year-old men with 20 corpses under their belt will walk free.”

                  • @”Russia for Russians”:

                    First of all, you should possibly not write so in response to a post of a Georgian, where the first president of the state widely hailed “Georgia for Georgians” in early 90ies.

                    Second, I would really like to see the source of these 52% you quote.

                    Third, you’d be possibly surprised by the Putin’s quote from his “direct line” (a televised session of answers on popular questions): “Russia for Russians” slogan is either used by morons, or by provocators”.

                    As to “Sova” centre, may I see a source which has not a “National Endowment for Democracy” as a main sponsor next time, please?

                    You wouldn’t believe an openly Russian-state sponsored rights activist telling you about how bad Georgia is, right? So why do you believe Russians are so stupid to buy this propaganda?

          • Sorry, there was an “R John” who I think was a Brit. Well, there is not much to disagree with in your post, except for from what I read, Russia is doing increasingly much to fight racism. In fact, laws providing for punishment for racist statements appear to be the necessary evil in the context of this problem that plagues the Russian society at the moment. Otherwise, what can I say, if Russia cannot end racism, its prospects as a country are not encouraging.

          • Not so well said. Soon there will be no states in Europe where racists are not represented (by a large numbers of MPs) in parliaments.

            In Russia, no racist party was ever represented in Duma, and would not be.

            • Yoohoo retard, ever heard of Vladimir Zhironovsky?

              Racist remarks
              Zhirinovsky has been widely accused of anti-Semitism (for his part, he suggested that Jews were often to blame for anti-Semitism[6]) for statements in which he accused Jews of ruining Russia, sending Russian women to foreign countries as prostitutes, selling children and organs to the Western world, and provoking the Holocaust. He reportedly even praised Adolf Hitler’s ideology of Nazism[16] and befriended Edwin Neuwirth, an Austrian industrialist and a “proud” former officer of the Waffen-SS who has denied that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews during World War II, leading some of the German media to denounce him as “Russia’s Hitler”.[7][14] Zhirinovsky has expressed admiration for the 1996 United States presidential election contender Pat Buchanan, referring positively to a comment in which Buchanan labeled the United States Congress “Israeli-occupied territory”, and said that both countries were “under occupation” and that “to survive, we could set aside places on US and Russian territories to deport this small but troublesome tribe.” Buchanan strongly rejected this endorsement, saying he would provide safe haven to persecuted minorities if Zhirinovsky were ever elected Russia’s president, eliciting a harsh response by Zhirinovsky: “You soiled your pants as soon as you got my congratulations. Who are you afraid of? Zionists?”[17] Zhirinovsky repeatedly denied his father’s Jewishness until he published Ivan Close Your Soul in July 2001, describing how his father, Volf Isaakovich Eidelshtein, changed his surname from Eidelshtein to Zhirinovsky. He rhetorically asked, “Why should I reject Russian blood, Russian culture, Russian land, and fall in love with the Jewish people only because of that single drop of blood that my father left in my mother’s body?”[18]
              Besides expressing his hatred for Turks and Caucasians,[19] Zhirinovsky also called for the deportation of all Chinese from Russian Far East.[20] During the 1992 visit to the United States, Zhirinovsky called on television “for the preservation of the white race” and warned that the white Americans were in danger of turning their country over to black and Hispanic people.[13]



              Matoshko alleges that Letov gave up politics in 1997. But a Moscow Times article by Alexander Bratersky describes Letov as “a political hardliner associated with Eduard Limonov and the ultra-nationalist National-Bolshevik Party” (15 November 2001). A Limonov supporter describes Letov as a man “whose genius as a lyricist is matched only by his ability to attract wanton violence at his concerts on a level that would cause most western punks to piss in their Dickeys” (Mark Ames, “Who’s Afraid of Edward Limonov?” Freezerbox Magazine, 15 March 2002).

              The National-Bolshevik Party, a party that is in no way Bolshevik, echoes the name of the National Socialist Party founded by Adolf Hitler, which was in no way socialist. In 1991 experimental Russian writer Eduard Limonov moved to the far right politically, becoming one of the most controversial public figures in post-Soviet Russia. He sided with Serbia against Bosnia and Croatia, serving as a mercenary fighter alongside the Serbs and publishing his war correspondence. He joined the shadow cabinet of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultra-nationalist, anti-western movement in 1992 as its interior minister, joined with anti-Yeltsin rebels in 1993, and formed the National-Bolshevik Party in 1994 with Dugin and Letov. Alexandr Dugin is known for the way his writings echo the thought of Hitler. Dugin calls for the unity of Europe and Asia against American power.

              The National-Bolshevik Party is not alone in its nationalist and anti-semitic rhetoric. Communist Party officials warn against Jews and “Zionisation”. In 1998, for example, General Albert Makashov publicly called for the mass murder of Russian Jews and claimed at every opportunity that he was fighting the “Yids.” Although stricken from the voting rolls before the 1999 elections, he won his old seat back in the 2003 elections.

              The Communist Party holds 11% of the seats in the Duma (Russian parliament). Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and was former deputy speaker of the Duma, has made frequent anti-semitic and racist comments. In October 2003, he responded to the claim of Malaysia’s then prime minister Mahathir Muhammad that Jews ruled the world by proxy with the comment: “He told the truth.” His party holds 8% of the seats in the Duma. The Motherland, a bloc of moderate nationalists and left-wing populists formed in 2003, merged with the openly anti-semitic People’s Will party. Motherland holds 9% of the seats in the Duma. Thus, 28% of seats in the Duma (123 deputies in all) are held by those voicing or endorsing anti-semitic ideas.


              • You know, the esteemed Duma speaker (and the Kremlin court jester) V. Zhirinovskyat one point or another threatened to nuke and otherwise exterminate or at least enslave… well, basically everyone in the world. But it’s funny how he supposedly hates the Jews so much actually while being Jewish himself (he tried to keep it secret, but eventually admitted).

                He’s also pretty harmless really, it’s just his job to play an extremist ever since he was recruited by the KGB (back under the old name of “KGB”). He’s paid for this and this alone.

                Now, what they wrote about Limonov is crap. He wasn’t “a mercenary fighter” (all of his shooting was symbolically firing a burst from a heavy machine gun at Sarajevo, and he later awardly apologised for this to a guy who accused him of complicity in killing his wife during the siege), “joined with anti-Yeltsin rebels in 1993” in nothing bad at all (he was also unarmed, like most of the “rebels” who supported the parliament and the vice-president against the militia and the military, as somehow Yeltsin had no crowds of civilian supporters for him this time), and he completely fell out with Dugin and denounced him as a “fascist”, his “party” is now left-wing and its current program is actually democratic and (I’m not using this ironically) progressive.

                • Robert and Andrew, you are both very naive, or, more probably, cunning when you’re quoting Zhirik – he’s never intended to fulfill a single promise of his heated speeches.

                  It’s just the same theatre as Nemtsov and Ryzhkov are. All promise something perfectly knowing they won’t ever have power to fulfill their promises.

                • About this machine gun firing, various sources write various crap about it, like calling it “a sniper rifle from a tank, or “50mm anti-aircraft “. Karadzic (you know, the “hero” according to RT) gave him an offer to shoot a PKM during his “Holy Defence” (again, RT-speak) and he accepted and shot. That’s all for being a fighter, much less “a mercenary”. The whole scene is here:

                  • Garnet, how many Serb civilians left Croatia? Did they leave voluntarily? If not, when are they going to be resettled there?

                    Have you ever visited Croatia? Not to say Bosnia?

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