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09/13/2004 Entry: "Those damn Ruskies!"

"Russia's America's Lurch Backward

"Faced with the most serious crisis of his presidency, gw bush Vladimir Putin has yielded to his darkest instincts. Russia's America's stumbling intelligence security services clearly need to be revitalized to fight terrorism. Mr. bush Putin, however, is using Beslan's the 911 tragedy as an excuse for suffocating the last vestiges of Yeltsin-era Clinton-era democracy. Yesterday, evoking American's Russia's long history new era of an autocratic concentration of power, Mr. bush Putin called has proposed and gotten legislation to end the popular election of regional governors and voting in parliamentary districts in favor of slates selected by national party leaders, who are more likely to that bends what used to be our government to presidential whims.

"These chilling proposals events have no obvious relevance to the terrorist attacks. By exploiting the nation's grief, they merely advance Mr. Putin's bush's antidemocratic agenda."
America's Russia's Lurch Backward, NYTimes Op/Ed, September 14, 2004

Mayerson, la Maru, who is the Queen of the Strike-Through.

September 14, 2004
Russia's Lurch Backward

aced with the most serious crisis of his presidency, Vladimir Putin has yielded to his darkest instincts. Russia's stumbling security services clearly need to be revitalized to fight terrorism. Mr. Putin, however, is using Beslan's tragedy as an excuse for suffocating the last vestiges of Yeltsin-era democracy. Yesterday, evoking Russia's long history of an autocratic concentration of power, Mr. Putin called for legislation to end the popular election of regional governors and voting in parliamentary districts in favor of slates selected by national party leaders, who are more likely to bend to presidential whims.

These chilling proposals have no obvious relevance to the terrorist attacks. By exploiting the nation's grief, they merely advance Mr. Putin's antidemocratic agenda. Well before this crisis began, he had moved to suppress the media, marginalize opposition parties and bring crushing legal charges against business leaders who challenged his dominance. The answer to Russia's problems, including corruption and terrorism, is more democracy, not less. Independent voices can spotlight issues that leaders prefer to keep quiet and pressure officials to perform their jobs more effectively. A country as huge and complex as Russia cannot be run efficiently or accountably by Kremlin nominees.

It has been clear to Russians for some time that all real power flows from Mr. Putin. That is why so much of the public outrage since the slaughter at the Beslan middle school has been directed at him. Over the years, Mr. Putin has made all the other institutions answerable to him in the name of reasserting order. Yet at Beslan there was no order, only the chaos of dysfunctional institutions: government officials who spouted misinformation, armed checkpoints that failed to check anyone, border protection forces that failed to seal borders, elite Army rescue units unable to rescue victims. Many of the most damaging failures were at the federal level, where Mr. Putin's responsibility is already supreme.

Mr. Putin is also responsible for Russia's stubborn refusal to deal with the political dimensions of Chechen separatism, as if punishing military offensives, puppet governments and fraudulent elections could somehow make the problem go away. Predictably, it did not go away. It got worse. Today it is just as easy to see that further narrowing the scope of Russian democracy will not solve Russia's real problems. But like all cornered autocrats, Mr. Putin finds scapegoating easier than change.

 

 

 

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