This paper reflects on the political changes that happened in Russia. Moreover, the paper analyses the Russia political scene and why reforms in the country have to be certain. Russian is a weak authoritarian nation that has been faced social problems due to ineffective leadership.
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Democratic governance of the nation has been widely debated in the European community in order to resolve different negative trends. The main political reforms implemented by Boris Yeltsin, the president who was elected in June 1991, were reversed during the five-year term of President Vladimir Putin. Putin was elected the president of Russia when Yeltsin resigned.
Political changes that happened in the federation (especially creation of the assassination of outspoken journalists, suppression of multi-party politics, and strengthening of authoritarianism rule by the president and media ownership concentration) indicated negatives changes. This let to Russian leadership change from liberal democracy to dictatorship and authoritarianism (Belin, 2000, p.14).
Russian electorate revealed that president Putin was still immensely popular, though some opinion poll reports showed that the president’s strategies were not influential and never appealed to majority of the people who felt exploited.
Furthermore, perception from other nations provided different views concerning Putin’s leadership. Many people had not doubted in Putin’s governance (Politkovskaya, 2004, p. 6). For example, there were spectrum views that portrayed Putin’s leadership such as: guided or managed democracy, democratic dictatorship and authoritarianism (Putin, 1998, p. 2).
Though, President Putin might not be responsible individually for all negative events and changes in Russia, he was responsible for causing reversible of dictatorship and anti-democratic values in the Russian Federation (Politkovskaya, 2004, p. 6). These values reinforced dictatorship and exploitation as hidden capitalism began eating into the conservative communist regime.
Russian is the fifth biggest nation, following the USA, China, Indonesia, and India. It occupies one eighth of territorial land of the world (Matejka, 1998, p. 34). Its economy had been affected severely by hype-depression with other factors which had been threatening Russia since 1990s.
Russian was a troubled nation that encountered organized crimes, serious terrorism, corruption and political assassination. These were regular and rampant cases in the country (Mansfield & Snyder, 1995, p. 7). The nation had to fight against Islamic terrorism group al-Qaeda which attacked it.
The Putin administration endeavored to crack down terrorism and crime in order to promote economic predictability and order in the society (Vladimir, 1998, p. 2). However, Putin became an authoritarian leader who controlled major television networks in the country (Mark, 1997, p. 3). He changed State Duma and Federation Council into rubber stamps that turned to be ineffective (Stone, 1997, p. 34). In addition, he weakened civil societies and political parties in Russia (Sakwa, 2004, p. 8).
Russian prosperity under Yeltsin’s rule
Russia was one of the most self-sufficient and resourceful nations in the world. Its natural reserve was based on Natural gas, Coal, Mineral salts like Nickel, Zinc, Mercury, Gold, Iron Ore, and Hydropower. People might justify that such existing industrial infrastructure and wealth of the nation would be a solid basis that would boosted the economy of the country. But this was not the case (Belin, 2000, p.14).
The government established a rigid economic policy that rejected social democracy in preference for real liberalism. The move was perceived to avoid market constraints. This was meant to enhance general social welfare within a short period of time (Matejka, 1998, p. 34). The govermment, on the other hand, lifted control, especially on wages and prices, in order to establish floating exchange to attain economic stabilization.
Such policy became very severe and caused a ‘dubbed shock’. As a result, consumer price index increased by 245% (Mark, 1997, p. 3). Women lost significantly because of rapid decline in living standards (Mansfield & Snyder, 1995, p. 7). This situation was termed as a hyper-depression, which was a national crisis (Belin, 2000, p.14). President Yeltsin resigned because people were not confident in his government.
Political revolution under Putin’s rule
Though in 1999 Russia had great power, it hobbled severely (Mansfield & Snyder, 1995, p. 7). Socially, it was a chaotic situation of lawlessness, desperation, and poverty. However, there was indication of enlightened government that aimed at restoring order. Such social challenges reflected egotist society due to repressive and despotic instincts present in several political responsibilities (Putin, 1998, p. 2).
People expected to observe whether economy of a free market and liberal democracy implemented by Yeltsin would withstand the existing pressure and instill political order (Putin, 1998, p. 2). The written constitution was promulgated first in 1993 before Yeltsin agreed to resign in1999 (Stone, 1997, p. 34).
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The political impact of Yeltsin succession led to decline in living standards. Putin was never elected, but was appointed when Yeltsin resigned in December, 1999. Though President Putin might not be responsible for the bad events and changes that occurred in Russia, he was responsible for the reversible policies that were contrary to democratic trend. It is important to note that democracy is normally featured by press freedom, rule of law, and multiparty democracy.
In Russia, press freedom was under siege beginning from the initial days when Putin became the president of Russia. Press freedom deteriorated. Public leaders exploited media during election period. They also obstructed campaign media coverage in order to guarantee their victory. Russian official governments harassed and persecuted media outlets and journalists (Vladimir, 1998, p. 2). Putin’s administration did not know values and benefits of free media.
The government officials assaulted free press with intention to supplement it with Putin’s press coverage (Matejka, 1998, p. 34). Putin was indifferent to democratic values and he opposed such important values in Russian society. The Putin’s administration policies were ambiguous and thus hindered press media from challenging and criticizing the authority of the president (Mark, 1997, p. 3).
Government officials interfered with journalist’s daily activities. Outspoken journalists were murdered. Government established heavy regulations which were tantamount and expensive to ownership concentration of TV stations and public media (Stone, 1997, p. 34). President Putin viewed critics as opponents and enemies who were against the states’ affairs. When the government suppressed press media, absence of critical investigation became perpetuation and entrenchment of dictatorship (Sakwa, 2004, p. 8).
Rule of law
It is an essential feature just like free media. It is a claim that promotes every citizen to be equally treated according to the laws implemented in the state. This means that leaders should not choose which individuals to punish and which should not (Belin, 2000, p.14).
Rule of law is a proposition that should be followed according to the words and letters of the stipulated laws (Politkovskaya, 2004, p. 6). This means that leaders should not use power to serve their own interests. Leaders should, just like any other individual, observe the rules of law.
Fair trials may not be possible if court system is not judiciary independent (Shevt︠s︡ova, 2003, p. 67). The institutional and economic chaos during Putin’s era led to rampant corruption in the judicial system. Russian judiciary was defective of the following of areas: political leaders manipulated legal hearings and big cases were backlogged. Yeltsin administration did not understand the rule of law of the country. He entrenched judiciary into a personalized rule to serve his interests (Belous, 2004, p. 11).
There were vital positive reforms under Putin’s governance. However, partisan alignment emerged, it was aimed at reducing a number of parties. It was a strategy of party registration which wanted to impose vital organizational and legal tests. A nation that suppresses the interest to political parties does not promote democratic values (Putin, 1998, p. 2).
Putin administration harassed opposition political leaders and independent civil societies that criticized his governance. Political malpractices, such as vote rigging and others, are concerned with issues which should be resolved in order to promote multi-party politics.
Why political reform is a certainty in Russia
Russians is a nation that should, first of all, protect human dignity of the citizens. This is important because such a move will affect bilateral interaction between it and other international nations (Snyder, 2004, p. 4). Positive bilateral relationship would ensure that Russia embraces political democracy and stability, as well as economic market stability.
For example, the United Kingdom had ensured that Russia was stable both, economically and politically because of importance of bilateral relations between the nations (Sakwa, 1997, p. 1). Britain promoted a policy that was designed to merge public institutions, democracy and rule of law in order to consolidate Russia to ‘commune together’ with European economic and political space.
Britain was committed to support Russia to fulfill its obligations, since Russia became a member of the council of Europe (CoE) (Belin, 2000, p.14). Russia became member of CoE in 1966. Western strategy to support Russia had been concerned with promoting energy resources and security in Russia. The United Kingdom, for example, criticized emerging abuse cases and retrenchment of media freedom in Russia (Saikal and Maley, 1995, p. 8).
American government and United Kingdom governments intended to reverse the recent negative habit of power concentration on one individual (authoritarianism of Putin’s administration) and to strengthen the rule of law (Silverman & Yanowitch, 1997, p. 56). There had been a need to support Russia for it to adopt free media and pluralism as national objectives (Stone, 1997, p. 34).
Both were important factors that would promote democracy. Russia had to adopt momentum to attain democratic values. Russia should establish a balance between government branches (judicial, executive and legislature).
Political power in Russia had not been tied to system of law. In November 2003, Tony Blair, Colin Powell (secretary of American state), President Bush and Condoleezza Rice met and discussed about negative things which had happened in Russia (Austin and Muraviev, 2000, p. 10). Powell claimed that Putin had caused serious challenges in Russia because of his authoritarianism. The move was important to be addressed in order to promote business opportunities in Russia despite negative factors experienced in the country.
It was clear that Putin administration caused many problems in the nation. The effort to eradicate terrorism enabled positive justification to have good working interaction of Russia with other international countries (Mansfield & Snyder, 1995, p. 7). It was aimed at including Russia to be involved in post-war progress in Iraq. Russia was supposed to support democratization and peace in Afghanistan.
Besides, Government of Russia was to be involved in reforms concerning its military forces in order to contribute to annihilation of terrorism, engage in achieving peaceful solutions to conflict experienced at Chechnya, and consolidate task of Russia-NATO council. Also, Russia was to support elimination of narcotics, collaborate to terminated development of nuclear weapon of Iraq, and involve in counter-proliferation policies, such as on biological and chemical weapons (Matejka, 1998, p. 34).
Russian external policies were formulated according to wide strategic international relationship. On the other hand, its domestic development should not be a direct threat to American, United Kingdom and other nations collaborating with Russia (Politkovskaya, 2004, p. 6).
America aimed to promote liberal democracies. It was the way of electing governments through public virtue that won people’s confidence (Zakaria, 1994, p. 19). This also included respect for people’s right, rule of law, pluralism and constitutionalism. Absence of constitutional limit and procedures created super-presidency which abused human dignity. Putin was supposed to follow foot steps of Yeltsin who advocated for liberal democracy.
This paper reflects about the current Russian perspective and developments as its starting point, which was based on the wide principle of commitment and democracy of the nation. The key issue was to focus on the future projects of the nation. This intended to reveal media coverage that showed the restriction of hard earned freedom by Russians (Putin, 1998, p. 2).
This paper also looks at the dilemmic issues of foreign policy that encountered by Britain leaders while interacting with Russians. Such dilemma looked at ways to promote and protect principle of democratic practices in order to counteract freedom entrenchment in Russia. This also was focused on how to enhance more traditional geographical, economic and security interests.
The task of future projects in Russia was focused on bringing sound and active recommendations, with effective follow up of public disseminations, particular media coverage and seminars. The future projects of Russian would depend on the prominent factors such as Russian politics, policy specialists, and advisers across the world (Matejka, 1998, p. 34).
Such projects would concern with ways by which Britain and other western governments would promote the democratic governance in Russian, which was the key focus of European politics in the recent years.
Foreign policy was focused on building of a rule-based, fair and effective world order. This policy was aimed at enhancing appropriate multilateral resolutions toward global challenges, effective governance and democratic states as the basis of development and order, collaboration of private sectors to provide public goods (Mansfield & Snyder, 1995, p. 7).
Russians is a nation that policy specialists should not ignore. Russia’s territory is vast with potential mineral resources, population size and geographical uniqueness indicating that the country is capable of influencing global issues for bad and good intention. The interest aimed at promoting Russian progress was never greater before.
The termination of triumphalism history broke the iron curtain and brought complaints on issues concerning durability of economic and political reforms in several post-soviet communities (Mansfield & Snyder, 1995, p. 7). Some people rejected the idea that reform processes might bring smooth transition governance into liberal democracy.
Ordinary people encountered problems due dictatorship that led to belief legacy about implementation of democratic values into the national context. They had negative influence toward the current Russian politics. However, some people accepted the President Putin’s motives to enhance the rule of law of the nation through implementation of political coherent policies (Austin and Muraviev, 2000, p. 10).
Though some citizens viewed that the President’s reforms were going too far from what was required to form appropriate governance mechanism. Such reforms were seriously regressed that has never matched democratic standards. This mission of liberal democracy focused on bringing the rule of law, political democracy, and freedom of media and expression to face sustained pressure (ability to criticize and abolish abuse of human right).
The protection of main human rights would positively affect bilateral interaction of Russia with other international nations like Britain (Sakwa, 2004, p. 8). This was experienced when President Putin Vladimir came in power and contributed to decline of democracy, which escalated impunity in Russia. This was the moment when Europe analyzed policies that were required to direct Russia in a democratic modernization path, in order to abolish authoritarianism in Russia.
This international collaboration was adopted through promotion of constructive and friendship spirit. It was a vital move to eliminate insincere judgments which overlooked social, economic and political implications in Russia. Single political and structural set would never be appropriate for every nation in any moment of history (Matejka, 1998, p. 34).
Russian situation had encountered many chronic challenges which need to be resolved by its formula. Though, there was a proof that the nation (Russia) was avoiding political representatives and pluralism into irreversible degree that would affect it in the long-time. There was a need to instill attitude spirit that intended to promote democratic values toward Russian young people.
The future projects in Russia will provide a vital contribution not only to European and British development, but also to other international nations on the current transformation and their implications in Russia (Vladimir, 1998, p. 2). This would stimulate greater interest, for example, in the media, general public, parliament and governments, national economic and social progress.
Western nations, like United Kingdom, should revitalize democratic leadership of Russia. The task of international governments is to enhance reversal of bad trends, and this need to be carried out in spirit of constructive and friendship support. International society has to play important role in order to build consistent and robust aims for devolving authority of leadership.
This calls for mobilization of international community to engage in political process to promote devolution process. Not only America and United Kingdom but other international communities should build the protection of freedom and respect of human rights of Russia citizens.
They should promote this through utilization of high level of diplomacy, use of available resources across multilateral agencies; scrutinize Russia because it is a member of the European community, utilization of proxy societies and western media like NGOs to debate about political development issues in Russia. Finally, such international community should enhance indirect and direct support to provide liberal pluralism to the country.
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