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  V. Putin‘s „democracy“ takes advantage of B. Yelcin’s death

Darius Varanavièius, political scientist, executive editor of the magazine "The State"
2007 05 16

Russia said good buy to B. Yelcin, the first democratically elected president and an undoubtedly contradictory state leader. What really surprised was a positive attitude of the majority of the Russian politicians and political analysts towards the late president.

On the other hand, it would be hard to deny the merits of B. Yelcin, i.e. destruction of the USSR, reforms in Russia and contribution to consolidation of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Everybody remembers the moment in Duma, when the Russian communists refused to stand up and to pay a tribute to the late President. By doing that they have simply demonstrated their primitivism and open hostility to democracy.

V. Putin was far more subtle and his position towards the death of the former leader of the country was more acceptable to ordinary Russian people. The grand funeral and attention of the current and former world leaders were impressive. However far more impressive was the address of the president to the nation: there was not a single hint of criticism towards B. Yelcin (what could be understandable in terms of the situation) and many nice words to the current democratic, free and full of happy citizens Russia.

Knowing what democracy values were propagated by the first Russian president, to call the current situation “democratic” would probably more insult the memory of B. Yelcin than the slap of communists in Duma.  Last year, when B. Yelcin celebrated his 75th birthday, he said in one of TV films that his key achievement in the post of president was freedom of media (despite the criticism directed towards him).

What has V. Putin done with B. Yelcin’s Russia? Independent TV channels disappeared; courageous journalists are either poisoned in planes, or simply shot.  At best, journalists seek sanctuary in Great Britain. Annual conversations of V. Putin with the Russian nation remind of the reports of general secretaries of the communist party of the USSR. Today the secretaries have been replaced by journalists who are frightfully listening to V. Putin.

Certainly, B. Yelcin might be reproached for oligarchs and the first war in Chechnya.  However, V. Putin, having promised to destroy oligarchs, has successfully done this by in principle despising the institute of private ownership.  Whereas the second military campaign in Chechnya has been initiated by the current president and coincided with the beginning of his electoral campaign.

Today V. Putin is proud of the stable country. However, what could happen if the current Russian president ruled the country back in the last decade? And what would be worse: to dismiss the parliament for breaches of constitution by attracting military forces or to make it an obedient toy of the regime through political manipulations and hidden political power?

Finally, nearly the worst grimace is that the current regime has managed to take advantage (in silence and with considerable tolerance) of the death of the former leader.

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