Back in the USSR
Every year the good folks at Freedom House prepare a worldwide survey of the state of freedom and democracy. This year’s report on Vladimir Putin’s Russia is particularly horrifying, and not even because Russia’s scores were lower than they have ever been, although they certainly were. What was most jolting was a look back at the trend Russia has now conclusively displayed under Vladimir Putin.
Under FH’s methodology, each country is assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 7 in a variety of basic criteria, with 1 representing the most freedom and 7 representing the least. Tracking the data over time from 2002 through 2011 produces the following chart:
Every single one of Russia’s scores has declined significantly under Putin, and Russia’s overall score for freedom has fallen by nearly 25% during this period. Since Russia started out the period with the designation “partly free” it has degenerated into the category “not free,” keeping company with the likes of North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
In three of the categories, Russia has achieved a score of 6.5/7, nearly perfect dictatorship, an absolute lack of freedom. These three are: electoral process, democratic governance and corruption. Russia’s lowest score is electoral process, where rigged elections galore have left Russia with a truly stunning mark of 6.75 out of 7. There is literally almost no room left for Russia to lose more freedom at the ballot box.
What thinking person can examine these trends and conclude anything except that Putin is engaged in a determined, pathological effort to wipe out freedom and democracy in Russia?
Russia was supposed to get something for this merciless crackdown, an event which anyone could easily predict when Russians elevated a proud KGB spy to be their president. Russians were supposed to get an end to corruption and crime and the beginning of economic prosperity.
But Russians have got none of that. Russia still leads the industrialized world in corruption and crime, and Russians still live in poverty and squalor compared to most of the rest of that world. The recent sinking of the cruise ship Bulgaria proves this conclusively. Putin’s rule did nothing to rennovate the ship, and did nothing to control the rampant corruption that allowed the rustbucket tub to be packed illegally full of undocumented passengers by an incompetent captain.
So Russians have the worst of all possible worlds. They have sacrified their liberty and gotten nothing of value in return (as if liberty were not priceless).
But we here at La Russophobe think that the greatest outrage in all this does not lie in Russia, but in Washington DC. We think that the the craven silence of U.S. President Barack Obama in the face of this merciless crackdown is by far the most shameful and outrageous aspect of it, and we condemn his cowardice. We call upon the people of the United States to remove him from office, so that once again there can be some hope for American leadership in defense of democracy and freedom in Russia.