Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center, writing in the Moscow Times:
The Russian government, with its solid hold on power, has invariably gotten away with poor performance, inefficiency, corruption and widespread violation of political rights and civil liberties. Polls consistently demonstrate that Russians are not deluded. They routinely respond in surveys that government officials are corrupt and self-serving. According to a poll conducted last summer, 80 percent believe that “many civil servants practically defy the law.”
And yet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has enjoyed high and steady approval ratings for years. A mild drop in early 2011 probably reflected frustration over social injustice and a growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty about the future. Even so, about 70 percent of respondents in a February poll said they approved of Putin’s performance. President Dmitry Medvedev’s approval ratings are only slightly lower.
Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Center, writing in the Washington Post:
Uncertainty is creeping up on Russia. For the first time since Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, Moscow confronts the prospect of real political instability. One of Russia’s savviest politicians, Anatoly Chubais, said last month that the likelihood of serious turmoil — economic, social and even political — is 50 percent.
The current crisis is global, and there is no sure way to forecast its length or depth. Such uncertainty would be disturbing in any country but is especially alarming here. For years, Putin steadily eliminated all political threats to his power, and by the end of his second term as president he enjoyed absolute authority. Now that authority is being challenged by forces beyond his control.
Masha Lipman Just Gives Up
It’s hard to think of an organization that has proved itself more totally irrelevant to the struggle for human rights and democracy in Russia than the Carnegie Center — or more just plain boring. Try as you may, you will not be able to name a single significant action the Center has taken in Russia to stand up against the rise of the neo-Soviet state or, much more important, simply to directly criticize the appalling behavior of the nation’s citizens as they repeat their neo-Soviet mistakes.
And now, CC’s Masha Lipman, who at least in the past has offered some meaningful academic insights about Russia, has jumped the rails and crashed into Russia’s moutains of despair. In a recent Washington Post column, she sighs and states: “It may sadden Russian liberals, including me, but political rights and civil liberties simply do not matter much in Russia these days.” So, apparently, she thinks the U.S. should stop demanding respect for such concepts in Russia, and she doesn’t have a single critical word to say about the craven cowardice and greed that motivates Russians to adopt this view.
But worse that that, her column is full of hopelessly inane contradictions and dead-end roads that lead nowhere.