Russia’s Sham “Democracy” Exposed

Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Luke Allnutt, editor in chief of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s English website and a blogge at Tangled Web, exposes the fundamental fraud of the Putin “democracy.”

With Russians up in arms about police corruption after a series of high-profile scandals, the Kremlin decided it had to do something. So it drafted a new police law and posted the bill on the Internet. The response was overwhelming: more than 20,000 Russians commented on the law, many of them offering detailed suggestions for changes.

This, according to the Kremlin, is the future of governance in Russia. Speaking in May, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, “I am absolutely confident that there will come an epoch of return from representative democracy to direct democracy with the help of the Internet.”

On the surface, initiatives like crowdsourcing legal changes might seem like a progressive, liberalizing step taken by a tech-savvy government. But in reality they are merely an exercise in political theater which actuallybypasses representative democracy.

As less-than-democratic states understand the Internet’s vital role in economic development and are fearful of being cast as press-freedom pariahs, they will increasingly pursue sophisticated avenues of control, instead of simply restricting access.

Medvedev on Twitter

In recent years, Medvedev has become infatuated with the idea that technology can be Russia’s savior. When he’s not video-blogging or promoting Russia’s plans for its own Silicon Valley, he’s hanging out with the folks at Twitter or boasting about his love of gadgets.

After Medvedev sent his first tweet in May, Russian politicians signed up for the micro-blogging service in droves. The Russian president’s idea is that through social networking and blogging, public officials will have a direct line to their constituents and be better attuned to their needs.

But other developments hint at what the future of Russia’s “direct democracy” might hold. A new political talk show, Duel, allows viewers to vote by text message to decide who wins the debate. A Kremlin ideologue, Gleb Pavlovsky, has set up a social-networking site, where the Kremlin taps users for help in shaping its ideology. In recent months, pro-Putin bloggers have even started describing Russia as a “plebiscitary regime.” What’s next, American Idol-style elections?

So, isn’t this openness a sign of better representation and a democracy finally shedding its Soviet past? No. For the Kremlin, the Internet has just become a new facilitator for an old dynamic – liberalization without democratization. For years now, the government has set up and funded civil-society bodies widely criticized by rights activists as mere smokescreens. Under Vladimir Putin, “direct democracy” meant town-hall meetings and a yearly hot line with the general public.

6 responses to “Russia’s Sham “Democracy” Exposed

  1. Russia is a perpetual Potemkin Village, a false front to impress foreigners and the gullible. The basics never seem to improve for the better, but rather, only for the worse. And the only Russians who currently have hope or seem cheerful for their future and who approve of the way things are there, now, are those dependent and benefiting from the criminal & depraved governance of their country, and those who are paid propagandists, as those trolls who post here, always defending their vile country. The brave noble ones, get battered down and murdered off. Godless Russia is thus, a hopeless case, and a scourge and a curse on this earth. Many Russians themselves believe that their country is hopeless. Sooner or later, the Kremlin criminals will start World War III. It is just a matter of when, not if.

  2. Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Luke Allnutt, editor in chief of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s English website and a blogge at Tangled Web, exposes the fundamental fraud of the Putin “democracy.”

    Western opinion leaders are non-biased independent journalists?

  3. Dear Dmitry,
    There you go, again!
    You really are trying hard to earn your KGB paycheck, aren’t you?
    To obtain accurate information about what ALL is really happening in current neo-soviet Russia, ( good, bad, and inbetween), we have many many sources.
    And, we can and DO compare them all, to ascertain their verasity.
    We get reports from Russians, IN Russia.
    We read reports from sources outside of Russia, as via this excellent La Russophobe blog, scholarly and honest analysts of people and life in Russia, also dependent on factual reports, from people IN Russia, either Russian themselves, or foreign visitors, etc.
    But still, the Kremlin’s perpetual line of bull is: ‘all criticism of Russia, is political and is a pack of lies, always!’
    Now, how can that be true?
    To say one word about the true story of life in Putin-Land, is ‘slandering Russia’.
    So, give it up, Dmitry!
    We see through your game, yours and your fellow co-horts in the internet trolling propaganda business.

    • @internet trolling propaganda business

      Sounds like you said all smart words you know in just one phrase:) You’re funny, go on:)


  4. AAH! finally a little truth has slipped out of ‘Dmitry’s’ mouth!
    The …..KGB…is indeed, the problem, is it not?
    He said it, not me.

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