This brings into disrepute the question of the rule of law, and if it is indeed being adhered to. Since the early 2000’s Putin has repeatedly cut down the powers of the lower elected house of parliament, the Duma, and has filled it with his supporters. 15 The way in which this has been achieved is nothing short of autocracy.
In the 2007 Duma elections, the ability of anti-Kremlin parties to effectively run for seats in the lower house was significantly diminished by various kinds of restrictions which were imposed on them by the administration.16 Though early elections in the Russian Federation were thought to be competitive, this has reduced significantly during Putin’s time in office. The lack of any viable opposition to Putin’s rule is a negating factor which hampers any prospects of encouraging a transition to a representative liberal democracy. Putin has also been active in reducing the powers of provincial governors of the oblasts17, putting in their place his own supporters.These deputies proved to be a threat to Putin and over the course of the past ten years, more than twenty six elected governors have been forced out of office either through blackmail, threats or false accusations which have led to impeachment. 18 Like Yeltsin before him, Putin has also installed his associates in places of power, men he has known from his St.
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Petersburg days, the ‘Pitertsy’ and the remnants of the ‘family’. 19 The judiciary has fared no better with accusations of bribery and intimidation rife in the Russian newspapers.It is perhaps by this route that Putin has most successfully fought the oligarchs, those wealthy Russians who gained from the collapse of communism, as they were considered a prime threat to his dominance. The continuance of ‘imperfect legislation’, laws from the communist era, also does not help in this regard, as they are not compatible with democratic values.
20 The power lost by the communist regime in 1991 was not effectively gained by the people but instead a new elite came to the fore. This has all been possible due to the 1993 constitution which gave the president enormous powers of decree-making.With this constitution still in place, any hopes for a liberal democracy in the making will surely be dashed. Because the dominant branch of government is not the legislature, accountability in the system is virtually non-existent. Putin and his supporters have justified this emphasis on strong central government by arguing that a weak regime is detrimental to the prospects of democracy. Polls conducted show that a majority of Russian people agree with him.
21 However this is a disturbing trend in the search for liberal democracy.If the Putin camp is really aiming for representative democracy then it is high time that they started to give back some power to the legislature as two decades is more than enough for power consolidation. The fear of communist resurgence in the mid 1990’s which prompted Yeltsin to consolidate power in the presidency, is gone now, the successors of the disbanded CPSU are a threat no more.
The Criminal State In October of 2006, Anna Politovskaya, a prominent journalist and critic of the Putin administration, was shot dead outside her apartment building in what many have called an assassination ordered ‘directly’ from the Kremlin.She was not the only journalist to have been killed in Putin’s Russia, more than three hundred have died in suspicious circumstances or disappeared since 1998, and there is strong evidence that a majority of the incidents have a ‘Kremlin connection. ’22 Today, Russia has more than forty television media outlets, with half of them being state-owned and most of the others towing the state line. 23 The independence of the media that was sought after has been continuously hampered by the repeated oppression of the press.Alexander Litvinenko, another outspoken dissident and former KGB agent, before his death from alleged radiation poisoning in 2006 by the FSB, authored two books on life in Putin’s Russia. In them, he exposed why the Kremlin has close ties to underground criminal gangs and how Putin uses these organizations to further his control over Russia.
24 The lack of a viably independent media has been cited as a strong precondition for transition to liberal democracy and this may be an important reason why liberal democratic values have not fostered in Russia.25 Freedom of speech in Russia is also a concern, as protesters have routinely been summarily arrested for expressing public dissatisfaction with the regime. The Muscovite police have had a strong hand in this as they are known to be strongly loyal to Putin. High levels of corruption in the state machinery also do not help to instill popular confidence in the institutions. This is indeed a worrisome prospect for any path towards liberal democracy and has been a serious obstacle for progress towards it. Civil participationThe active participation of civil society in all areas of government is considered to be the most important prerequisite for the making of a liberal democracy.
One of the most eminent political scientists of the twentieth century, Robert A. Dahl has repeatedly cited this as a necessary condition present in many of the polyarchies of the world. 26 However, the above mentioned factors in this essay, in relation to Russia, have not allowed for any comprehensive civil participation and thus democracy itself has been under duress.
Without the presence of any viable civil participation and representation in Russia, liberal democracy has not been allowed the platform from which to grow. -Conclusion- It has been a matter of debate as to the extent to which those who have been in power in Moscow during the past two decades have wanted liberal democracy. If it is indeed the case that liberal democracy is a goal of the policy makers then the method by which this transition is trying to be achieved is seriously flawed.
Autocratic leadership for the reasons of power consolidation must cease when the country has been stabilized.It is then that liberal reforms must take place. According to some scholars such as Kulik, the democratic transition is over and Russia has very little chance of emerging as a viable liberal democracy.
27 However, the question posed in the introduction to this essay has, as we have seen a simple answer, that Russia has not emerged as a liberal democracy because it has not instituted the necessary preconditions for such a system. Russian democracy is at the stage where it must choose either to continue with the delegative democracy in place or liberalize and move towards representative liberal democracy.The status-quo must not continue, and only then, will the hopes of a decade ago be fulfilled.Bibliography Barany, Zoltan. Russian politics: challenges of democratization. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
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com Publications. All effort has been made to track the sources referred to in this article, however the author wishes to apologize if any breach of intellectual property law has unknowingly taken place.1 Glasnost (openness), perestroika (reconstruction), and demokratizatsiya (democratization) were some of the policies pursued by Mikhail Gorbachev in order to reform the failing economy of the USSR.
2 Carothers, Thomas. “The end of the transition paradigm. ” Journal of Democracy 13, no. 1 (2002): 5-21. 3 Huntington, Samuel P. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
4 Murrell, G. D G. Russia’s transition to democracy: 1989-1996. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1997. 5 Lakoff, Sanford. Democracy: History, Theory, Practice. Oxford: Westview Press, 1996.
6 Ibid. 7 Hassner, Pierre. “Russia’s Transition to Autocracy. ” Journal of Democracy 19, no. 2 (2008): 5-15. Accessed February 20, 2011.