Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Democratization" in Russia?

Actually, there's said to be a better name for it: "Deputinization", and that term is said to have been coined by (hold applause)... U.S. officials!

Well, that's according to Komsomolskaya Pravda, as regurgitated by Russia Today TV. In a nutshell: some of the Wikileak-ed cables indicate that the "bad" members of the Russian civil society and political opposition went to the "moderately bad" Americans to ask for support (and money) in bringing down the current government. The "moderately bad" Americans, who see the bigger picture and realize the substantive weakness of the current opposition, refused, and yet tried to placate their frustration by addressing some of their less harmful demands. Here's the whole story, if you're interested:

That was followed by an column by Gleb Pavlovsky published on the RT website, and by a profound discussion with Webster Tarpley on this very interesting subject of potential conspiracy:

Certainly, depending on your perspective, you can view the story in several different ways. Yet, there is no denying that "democracy promotion" is something the U.S. actively supports all around the world (perhaps to its own detriment). Officially, that is. These leaks - yet again - do not reveal anything really new, but only "prove" Kremlin's previous statements that the political opposition, as well as various domestic and international NGOs, are simply "puppets" in the hands of their Western patrons. (In fact, only last week RT featured a series of reports on the same subject.)

RT, certainly, wouldn't miss this wonderful opportunity of highlighting the story, despite the fact that it received virtually no other coverage, especially in the non-Russian media (even a Russian-language search returned very few results, all referring back to Komsomolskaya Pravda's article). RT, therefore, shows up with any English-language search.

Well done? After all, as Russia's international broadcaster, RT represents the Russian perspective in the international media space, frames the stories in favorable light, argues Russia's case, and thus, supposedly, implements a substantial part of its public diplomacy. Yet, the fact that the story was not picked up by any foreign media (while the number of the actual RT viewers is very questionable) also raises questions about the effectiveness of this strategy, and its potential for success...

Going back to democracy...: Here, it would also be appropriate to point out a recent poll by the Levada opinion research center, which indicated that 56% of Russians would be willing to give up some "democracy" for the sake of "stability" in the country. In contrast, only 23% think that the achievement of democracy is paramount at any cost (this is a major increase from April 2000, however, when only 9% of the population said they believed so). The following segment provides a better discussion of these results:

Well, then, perhaps the American officials' assessments of the Russians' "readiness" for democracy have been correct (surprisingly!)? "Deputinization" should come from within. And although there is a clear improvement in terms of the public's aspiration for democracy, it has, obviously, not reached the tipping point, yet. Having another failed color revolution, especially in a country like Russia, would serve no one's interests (on the contrary - it would increase global insecurity).

Fundamental and sustainable changes take time. If nothing else, these Wikileak-ed cables show that the Americans do understand that.

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