Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Soviet in Making???

With declaration of date for Presidential elections on 2nd December media and blogosphere is full of news related to who will lead the largest country in world. Opinions are multifarious ranging from suppression of free speech to voice of liberal electorate and hailing Putin as most successful leader post Soviet breakdown. Well you can easily predict the media speculation depending on your media source. While US and western commentators have severely criticized the way elections are handled in Russia, reports coming from 'Mother Russia' are mostly favorable possibly due to state control of media. But the real perspective is confusing to people outside. Whatever be Putin's approval rating, whatever be the Russian economic progress the signs given by Russia surely decreases its credibility on International front instead of improving.

More and more Anti-Kremlin activists are attacked and arrested in Russia. Russian police broke up an opposition rally and detained about 150 people in St Petersburg, including opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. This happens after former chess champion Garry Kasparov, was arrested at a rally in Moscow on Saturday. Both protests were organised by opposition group The Other Russia. It accuses the government of crushing dissent ahead of elections. TOR has been accusing the government of crushing dissent ahead of elections.Since the last election there has also been a series of significant changes to electoral laws which opposition parties say aims to push them out of the political system. Major points are increasing the minimum percentage of votes required for a party to enter parliament, increasing the minimum number of members a party must have in order to be officially registered by the authorities and banning independent candidates from running for parliament. In face of these and no scope for independent financing, no access to independent media and no access to independent justice there's no possibility to become an opposition.

However pro-Putin supporters ( United Russia) are also not devoid of logic. They see Putin as provider of regional stability and a force against Unipolar World. Supporters of the Kremlin dismiss all allegations of opposition parties as the complaints of losers. Russia was falling apart when Mr Putin came to power. The country needed a strong leader, and it's to Mr Putin's credit that Russia survives as a geographic entity. He has also achieved another important victory. Russians are now proud to be living in their country, which few people could say in the 1990s. GDP growth has been exponential backing on oil and gas prices. These have helped Putin to leverage Russia's position on erstwhile soviet countries and World scene.

However even Kremlin supporters cannot negate the growing menace of corruption in Russian society and there increasing isolation in World community. The only achievement of Vladimir Putin is that some of the money brought to the county by high oil prices hasn't been stolen. There is some investment and it seems to be paying off. Business tycoons who defy Moscow are sent on Siberian Holiday and there is always a threat of nationalization.

Now Putin is bringing one Viktor Zubkov from obscurity to become Russian President and he being in control of strings from behind. Planning is probably done that Zubkov will resign in some time paving way for Putin to again become President. What will transpire, we will come to know in a month or so. Till then "Hail Mother Russia"

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