Putin and failing democracy

The Washington Post’s Masha Lipman tackles Putin’s Russia:

“Putin seized on the Beslan tragedy as an excuse to launch a political crackdown and to further curb democratic practices. The information about the situation in the north Caucasus, as well as anti-terrorist operations, became even more tightly filtered by state-controlled TV networks. The investigation of Beslan, like that of the theatre siege before it, has been much more about helping high-ranking officials avoid accountability than about a careful probe of the government’s policy flaws.

“When Putin took over as Russia’s president, Kabardino-Balkaria was quiet. But Putin’s use of brutal force in Chechnya has backfired, producing growing numbers of revenge-seekers. Further centralization of power has led to deeper problems of the kind inherent in a heavily bureaucratic system: poor performance, lack of accountability, failure to coordinate efforts because each official seeks first and foremost to avoid responsibility at any cost. A local leader with an independent source of authority is regarded with suspicion – loyalty to the Kremlin is valued above all. This breeds incompetence and powerlessness among local officials.”

During recent EU talks, Tony Blair and Putin discussed ways to fight “terrorism.” Blair told journalists: “Russia and the Russian people, like Britain and the British people, know the threat which global terrorism poses. But we also share the same determination not to be defeated by it.”

Putin creates terrorism across his vast country, as does Blair across the world. The chances of these two “defeating” it is about as likely as Israel accepting the democratic process in upcoming Gazan elections.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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