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(AV17407) Russia After the Presidential Elections: Is There Hope for Democracy?

(AV17407) Russia After the Presidential Elections: Is There Hope for Democracy?


I think we’ll start now that we have all
the microphones working on this one – amazing
all right good evening everyone my name is olga mr. cava I’m an assistant
professor of Russian in the Department of of languages and cultures I’m also
the director of the Russian East European and Eurasian Studies program in
the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and it is my pleasure to welcome you to
the Reis Russian Eurasian miss European art that is annual distinguished speaker
series event and this year we are absolutely honoured and delighted to be
hosting as our distinguished speaker David Satter
who is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution a senior fellow at the
Hudson Institute a visiting scholar at the University of urbana-champaign where
he’s actually teaching right now this semester and the visiting scholar at the
John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies just a
few words about our speaker today David graduated from the University of Chicago
and Oxford University with a degree in political Santa our philosophy in 1976
she was named Moscow correspondent of the London Financial Times after
completing his six-year term in Moscow he became a special correspondent on
Soviet affairs for The Wall Street Journal contributing to the papers
editorial page since then he wrote two books about Russia one called
age of delirium the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and the second book
called darkness at dawn the rise of the Russian criminal state his books have
been translated into Russian Estonian Latvian Portuguese and Vietnamese age of
delirium is also being made into a documentary film by a Russian film
director and a Nekrasov and the film is expected to come out in 2008 he’s
perfectly working on a new book about the Russian attitude towards the
Communist past I should also add the darkness
at dawn is available for sale and after the talk our David David will be able to
sign the book David continues to write on
in the former Soviet Union for the editorial page of The Wall Street
Journal’s Journal his articles have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times
National Review New Republic New York Sun New York Review of Books Reader’s
Digest The Washington Times and The Weekly Standard he’s frequently
interviewed in both Russian and English by Radio Liberty The Voice of America
and the BBC he has also appeared on Fox News CNN CNN international c-span as
well as as well as in some Russian television stations such as oil fair and
Earth there and lastly I would like to acknowledge the sponsors of today’s
event they are Russian is to European and Eurasian Studies Program
the comedian lectures the world affairs series the Miller lectures fund the
department’s of world languages and cultures and the Greenlee School of
Journalism and communication all the said please welcome David Satter
whose dog today is entitled Russia after the presidential elections is there hope
for democracy thank you I’m very glad to be here it’s not my first visit to Iowa
but it’s my first visit to Ames and I’ve spent most of the afternoon walking
around the campus and visiting the town and it seems to be very very charming
place and it’s particularly charming that so many of you who have appeared
for this lecture in any case I think we’re all aware that Russia has elected
a new president the new president is named Dmitry Medvedev and he’s a
longtime associate of flat Amir Putin but the events surrounding the election
of this new president are very puzzling they’re puzzling for Russians and
they’re even more puzzling for those of us who try to understand what’s what’s
going on in Russia we have in order to understand the
context of what happened we have to go back a little bit to the parliamentary
elections which took place in December of last year at that time
Dmitry Medvedev had not been nominated as a candidate for the presidency he did
not enjoy the support of Putin but Putin about whom there were many rumors that
he would run for a third term as president ran at the head of the
parliamentary list of the party called United Russia United Russia is a very
strange party it consists of prominent personalities who are in one way or
another associated with the regime they don’t seem to have any political
positions they don’t debate their political positions under any
circumstances and they take the attitude that the Russian people are simply
obliged to vote for them with that kind of attitude one would assume that they
would have very little success but on the contrary they regularly win big
parliamentary majorities one of the reasons for this is they have control
over what are called administrative resources they control meeting halls
like this one automobiles buildings facilities money they can create a
situation and niche of all necessary facilities and and conveniences
connected with running for office are provided for their candidates and none
are provided for the people who oppose them they can among other things
guaranteed themselves saturation coverage in the press well under Russian
law a person doesn’t have to be a member of United Russia or any other party to
stand in the party list there’s no guarantee even that that person will
take office what he’s doing is merely lending support to that party by giving
him his name and allowing the party to list it on the ballot well the first
person on the list of United Rucker was glad Amir Putin so strange
thing took place while Russians were voting for Parliament they on the one
hand elected deputies to the state duma which is the name for the russian
parliament on the other hand were said to be endorsing a new role for president
putin this new role was as leader of the nation now there’s nothing in the
Russian Constitution about a leader of the nation or national leader the
Russian Constitution provides for a precedent it provides for a prime
minister but there’s not a word about a national leader nonetheless the Russian
press made it clear that the vote for United Russia with Putin at the head of
the list was a an endorsement of a Putin’s role as national leader a few
curious people asked well what is he going to do as national leader but not a
word of explanation was offered to the population nonetheless the elections
took place United Russia won overwhelmingly and Putin announced and
those people who support him announced that he this was a grant of legitimacy
extended to him and all he has every intention of surrendering the post of
president he nonetheless on the basis of this grant of legitimacy is justified in
considering himself to be national leader of Russia now at the same time
putin indicated that he intended to endorse the candidacy of Dmitry Medvedev
to be Russian president and inventive himself then said if he wins he’s going
to name Putin Prime Minister so a street well as we know the elections took place
mid ffedith did we and he is confirmed that he intends to
make Putin Prime Minister this raised a number of irreverent questions for one
thing people began to ask well if me then is president and Putin is Prime
Minister does Putin hang up a picture of Medvedev on the wall of this office
because it’s well-known that in Russia people don’t just love them don’t just
obey their bosses they actually love their bosses because as a rule
everything depends on that boss and so the last thing they want to do is give
the impression that they have even a particle of doubt about the wisdom and
greatness of their boss and the best way to indicate that is to put his picture
up over your desk so you can always look at that picture and in fact if you
really want to show your loyalty you put it in a place where it’s impossible to
avoid the picture so no one could even imagine that you have any thought in
your mind except genuflection before this great person who is your boss well
Putin said that actually he didn’t intend to put a picture of Medvedev
which is one sign that something was amiss in his office he said it wasn’t
really necessary for him to have a picture it meant that if he knows who he
is and indeed he he has every reason to know who he is because Putin has been
responsible for many others career and Medvedev hails from the same political
milieu in st. Petersburg which produced Putin and where Putin got his political
start the assumption on the part of many people is that Medvedev is a figurehead
that insofar as he owes his position exclusively to Putin that he has no
discernible personality that in fact he has no known political positions which
two different anyway from the positions of Putin
and in fact given the opportunity during the presidential elections refused even
to debate the other contenders in the presidential election and this is saying
something because those other candidates were carefully chosen by the
presidential administration of Putin candidates who had a chance of raising
serious issues in the in the election and I’m not talking now about actually
winning the election but simply turning them into a real discussion of the
nation’s future were eliminated by the Electoral Commission and in fact were
not given position were not given permission to run
there was one candidate Mikhail Kasyanov a former prime minister who was
determined to raise or who promised to raise the issue of some of the crimes
that were committed during the Putin period and in which the regime is
believed to have been involved as a highly experienced government
professional he understood that there would be a rigorous effort to exclude
signatures from his nominating petitions under the law in Russia you need if
you’re not a member of a party is not nominating you if you’re running as an
independent candidate you need two million signatures and he raised two
million signatures and then some the Central Election Commission said that
13% of those signatures were invalid because he onif and his staff were
claiming that it would by no stretch of the imagination could 13% of those
signatures have been invalid than at them that at the outside the most that
that the percentage of spoiler signatures are in doubt seizures could
have been was 3% but nonetheless he was eliminated as a candidate another
candidate on trade Bogdanov who was far less well known than Kazama
but who was appliance candidate and someone who would not under any
circumstance raise controversial issues did not have
his signatures challenged yet in the actual election he received far fewer
than 2 million votes indicating that in fact when it came to Bob Thomas nobody
took a serious look at the signatures on his nominating petitions but in any case
even with candidates who were carefully selected and with possible articulate
opponents winnowed out there was no real debate medvedev simply indicated he
wasn’t interested in a debate and he won the election overwhelmingly on the
strength of the prosperity that has been experienced in Russia since Putin came
into office and that prosperity stems less from the actions of Putin although
we’re going to come back to this subject in a minute then the high prices of
commodities in particular the high price of oil in 19 and 18 1998 excuse me
oil was selling for nine dollars a barrel recently the price of oil reached
a hundred and ten dollars a barrel under those circumstances the windfall profits
for Russia which fell upon the regime like mono firm from heaven amounted
during Putin’s rains to something like 500 billion dollars of profits that an income that was solely
attributable to be increase in the price of oil but under these circumstances
it’s hard to imagine that Medvedev can emerge as a truly independent and
politically identifiable figure in the Russian political
situation as we’ve seen he owes his position to the endorsement of Putin
Putin has won recognition in his own eyes as national leader of the country
and Medvedev owes his career completely to Putin
but what complicates the situation enormous Lee are the realities of the
Russian political situation beginning in 1993 when Russia received a new
constitution in the wake of the abolition and the shelling of the
abolition of the old Supreme Soviet which was the former Soviet part of the
the former Russian parliament an abolition that was accompanied by the
shelling of the apartment building in the killing of hundreds of people
Russia received a constitution which made it into a presidential Republic the
president has the power to nominate and dismiss the Prime Minister as well as
all of the important ministers he it’s true that in nominating the Prime
Minister he needs the confirmation of the State Duma but if the duma rejects
three its consecutive candidates for prime minister the duma itself can be
dispersed by order of the president so therefore the ability of the duma to
control the executive branch of government is very limited in it under
these circumstances the Prime Minister is reduced at least
in terms of the formal legal situation to basically an errand boy and some
people have suggested that in fact Russia doesn’t even need a prime
minister under the existing situation he has so little power during the years of
Yeltsin’s and Putin’s the Prime Minister’s were all oftentimes
people who were completely nondescript and whose cheek function was
administrative and in some cases to take the blame for failures so people who are
examining the Russian situation now are wondering how it’s possible that Putin
as Prime Minister is going to be able to dominate mid vetiver as president when
the all of the machinery of government dictates the opposite yet we’ve seen
sitting in recent months that it is Putin who behaves as as president and
not mid bit of Putin for example introduced Medvedev before he was even
elected to the other heads heads of the nations that compromise the Commonwealth
of Independent States the organization that was formed out of the republics
that were once part of the Soviet Union as the likely future leader of the
country this took place even before Medvedev was elected the Russian people
went to the polls and voted on Putin’s say-so
without any understanding of how this new system was going to work or in fact
what in reality they were voting for because the issues were never debated
and so of Moscow today and I came back from there just a few weeks ago and I’m
planning to go back again when Medvedev is formerly invested as president of
Russia is awash with rumours over how this is going to work for one thing
Medvedev was going to inherit all of the appointees of Putin it’s believed that
those people are loyal to Putin and therefore
he will have little luck if he tries to do anything with them that Putin
disapproves of the split in the Russian leadership between liberals and
so-called Salafi keys from the Russian word seal which means force those are
the people who are in the security agencies and the military is believed to
favor obedience to Putin because the seal of a key who’ve been left out by
the the appointment of the supposedly liberal man benefit may rely on Putin to
preserve their authority but these are only rumors one of the things that
people have noticed is that the windfall profits from oil go through the
presidential administration formally that means they should be in it and the
bribes which flow from that money also our channel through the presidential
administration that should mean that Medvedev as the new president inherits a
very powerful lever of power does it mean that no one is sure and even if
Putin and Medvedev can work things out between themselves and Medvedev will
automatically ignore his constitutional prerogative and defer to the informal
pressure brought to bear on him by Putin what about their staffs what about the
organizations that are under their control will they not begin to fight
with each other for power wealth influence and all the other things that
bureaucrats tend to fight over no one has the answer to that question the
other worrisome aspect of the present situation is the Russian tradition
Russia is a country which has never done well with two centers of power the
Bolshevik Revolution took place the Bolshevik seizure of power was possible
because the bolster base attempted to undermine that the provisional
government with the all power to the Soviets in which they
had great influence in fact the the Soviets once the Bolsheviks seized power
were worked and were transformed into a purely ornamental imitation of popular
institutions but the fact that there were that there were these spontaneously
formed workers towns workers and soldiers councils and that they appeared
in some respects to be more democratic than the provincial for a provisional
government created a dual power situation which allowed them to abolish
all competitors to power in the last years of the Soviet Union there was dual
power because Yeltsin succeeded in getting himself elected as the as
president of the Russian Federation Gorbachev was president of the Soviet
Union so Russia had a centrist so the Soviet Union had a situation in which
there were two presidents whose whose authority was not was mutually lead
defined spheres of authority were not clear and in the end the Soviet Union
was abolished in no small measure because of Yeltsin’s desire to become
the head of state something he could not accomplish along as long as there was a
Soviet structure on top of the Russian structure which he commanded in 1993
there was another power struggle this time between the president the
presidential administration under Yeltsin and the Russian parliament which
had earlier supported Yeltsin in his own aspiration to get rid of Gorbachev and
that ended up with a bloody battle on the streets of Moscow and the shelling
of the Parliament building and in fact the new consul
which created this role for the presidency that I’ve already described
turned Russia into a presidential super presidential system in which Parliament
was basically emasculated and had little power so up with this tradition of
fighting it out in order to us to establish one undisputed leader people
are nervous that something may have similar may happen in Russia today
because even though people Medvedev and Putin undoubtedly started out trusting
each other there’s no guarantee that Putin that I’m sorry that Medvedev
having been in invested as president will continue to be worthy of Putin’s
trust the fact is that the tradition of fighting for exclusive power is very
deeply ingrained and I I was struck by the fact that Yeltsin when he felled
ordered the shelling of the Russian parliament in 1993 was shelling the
people who were his former allies the persons in charge of the Parliament and
who were holding out against the army units that Yeltsin sent against them
were in fact people who had helped him gain power in 1991 it reminds me a
little bit of some of the history of some of the Russian criminal gangs there
was a town in Russia called spared lost it was later renamed Yekaterinburg and
in Yekaterinburg the local gangsters put to put together a powerful criminal
organization which began to extort money from the from the cities entrepreneurs
and businesses well as long as they were making money together they were the
greatest of friends and they drank vodka together and they promised eternal
Brotherhood and and the luck the the difficult point
came when they had to divide the money up at that point the the eternal friends
turned into bitter enemies and they began killing each other and in fact
they two gangs formed in in Yekaterinburg the Earl Mustang and the
central gang and in the cemeteries of in the main cemetery of Yekaterinburg in
the most prominent place where the monuments are the most ornate on one
side of the alley is our other are the gravestones of the uralmash gang and on
the other are the great stones of the central gang all of them worked the
greatest of friends at one point before it became a question of dividing up the
loot so we faced a situation in which and
Russians are aware of these precedents and they’re uncertain about the way in
which the country is going to go and the way in which the political system is
going to work and this element of uncertainty is extremely ominous for
Russia because the country faces three basic problems of a moral character many
people have argued that well Russia is well on its way to stability and they
cited some important facts they’ve cited the fact that for example the share of
GDP per person per head in Russia has increased under Putin from two thousand
dollars the equivalent of roughly two thousand dollars to about nine thousand
dollars which is a huge increase really in a short period of time I have gone to
Russia for many years and I was always accustomed to thinking of Russia as a
very poor country and a country in which people lived very modestly well in
recent visits the impression is changed I see that there’s a very a
large and growing middle class in Moscow and st. Petersburg that many people in
Russia are now living in a Western level or enjoying a Western level of
consumption images of Russia are changing Russians are traveling and are
participating in the life of the broader civilization but at the same time at the
same time the Russian government through very prudent macroeconomic policies has
avoided hyperinflation which could have been the result of this influx of oil
revenues and has put aside billions of dollars in a stabilization fund to
protect the country against the possibility that in the short term
prices of oil will will fall but even with these economic these measures these
signs of economic progress there are moral factors in Russia which indicate
that the country is fundamentally unstable and that the polluter the
political uncertainty can only make that worse one factor is the corruption in
the country the corruption existed under Yeltsin in fact it existed under the
Soviet system but it is by most indications rising faster than the
increase in the price of oil I I have not been present where bribes have been
paid therefore I have to rely on anecdotal information as do most
Russians but the anecdotal information I believe is reliable and in fact it’s
it’s very worrying government posts are sold the post of deputy minister for
example according to my informants goes for from 10
fifteen million dollars and people acquire these posts in order to be able
to use them to profit from corruption themselves in order to get a favorable
action in the office of the general prosecutor it’s necessary to begin with
five hundred thousand dollars this is can be the prosecute hasta the
prosecutor are important because this is a way of ruining a competitor or on the
contrary protecting yourself from efforts to ruin you which may be
launched by your competitors I was told that by a friend of mine an
investigative reporter in Moscow that one of his acquaintances had built an
office building in Moscow for a total of more than three million dollars 1.3
million dollars was paid for the cost of construction the actual real expenses of
1.8 million dollars for bribes the situation is such that an entire army of
parasites lives off Russian business and off Russian workers to get a permit to
and the many many permits are required to get permissions to get access to
state business all of these things require bribes to get a necessary
signature that will allow you to begin work on a project and you will need you
will need to pay bribes and this bureaucracy is essentially uncontrolled
because the courts are not objective and the judges are corrupt and the
government itself has no motivation to control the bureaucracy and the press is
shackled and private businesses into the met the largest state concern in
Russia is gas Bromwich was the former Ministry of the gas industry it’s worth
many many billions of dollars yet 6% of the shares of gas Prohm have disappeared
even though this is a part that they partially state-owned corporation that
6% is worth 20 billion dollars nobody knows what happened to it the richest
businessmen in in the in Russia is his name dibromo dodge and he has an
organization called Milhouse Incorporated and he’s among other things
he was succeeded in selling a oil company seep the nest that he acquired
for a hundred million dollars back to the state for thirteen billion dollars
now Milhouse is believed to have unknown partners who are in fact high government
officials no one can establish who those people are
there was talk at one point of establishing a state monopoly on the
sale of oil to guarantee that the revenues would be would remain with the
state in fact a monopoly was established but it wasn’t a state monopoly it was a
private monopoly a a corporation a company called blue Navarre based in
Switzerland which is believed to have ties to President Putin is responsible
for selling 1/3 of Russia’s oil and it does so at present at prices that it has
privileged access to the other to to Russian oil which it receives at prices
that are far below world prices sells the oil at
world prices and keeps the difference which is then by all indications
redistributed among Russian officials Russian officials oftentimes do business
on behalf of their ministries and on behalf of government organizations with
companies that are based in offshore zones which they in fact either own or
control or in the name of their relatives or their friends and because
of the laws on banking secrecy in these offshore law in these offshore zones
it’s impossible to identify who in fact is the real owner of these companies
that are doing such lucrative business with the state but in almost all cases
it’s believed to be the government officials themselves for assigning the
contracts well under these circumstances the Russian economic system is just
unworkable the one thing that makes it possible for the Russian economy to
continue to function and for for living standards to increase is the mana from
heaven that results from high oil prices and high commodity prices Russia was the
outstanding benefactor of the world boom in commodity prices during the – the
earther 2000s and unfortunately a situation is created in which the
country can only continue to benefit from high oil prices if it’s to prosper
at the present level anything if anything happens to those prices and the
history of the oil markets just that that that price rises are cyclic all in
the oil market there will be a real crisis in Russia not least of all
because the value of bribes in Russia is not believed to be elastic in a downward
direction all of this corruption is based on payoffs and the payoffs the
persons who are both most equipped to demand payoffs are government officials if as long as the oil prices are high
there’s enough money there to accommodate the demands the rapacious
demands of all kinds of factions within the government bureaucracy all of whom
are anxious to get their share of the pie but there’s no reason to believe
that these officials will accept smaller bribes if the value of oil should fall
on the contrary they may begin fighting among themselves in order to try to
protect their their level of income at the expense of others and this is the
second morale factor in the situation in Russia which is that is that a regime
which has systematically eliminated the normal safe darts of a Democratic
Society of Free Press non-government organizations a functioning parliament
an independent judiciary an independent prosecutorial service an independent
business doesn’t have the means of settling disputes and the tendency of
the bureaucracy to operate without any control by society means inevitably that
within the bureaucracy factions form there’s nothing to determine who gets
what that can only be determined by agreement competition fear of of
conflict and it presupposes the system to depend on an arbiter in the case of
Russia that arbiter is been president poo
and that’s been the key to his success that’s the reason why many people in
Russia wanted to keep him for a third term warring factions in the bureaucracy
which is feeding off the population in society as a whole
went to Putin to resolve their conflicts and it was Putin who was and apparently
is still capable of doing so but now a new factor has been added a new person
in high authority how will the system work under these circumstances we don’t
know that there was one indication fighting broke out between two factions
in the security services and one result of it was that two members of an of of a
faction connected with the federal narcotics service were found poisoned
and they another person connected with that service was arrested ultimately it
was Putin who settled the dispute and the full details what it is that were
fighting over are not clear it is known that members of the Security Service
have gone into smuggling and contraband in a big way and the person who was
arrested had in fact been investigating the the the members of the opposing
faction and that led to it and that may have been a factor in his arrest but
under these circumstances we have to ask ourselves what happens if those
conflicts become worse who is that it was going to resolve those conflicts
within the bureaucracy after all the legal system doesn’t work that the the
the role of an entity of an independent legal system has been eliminated as a
result of the relentless concentration of power in the presidential
administration and in bureaucracy and thirdly we have a
situation in Russia in which the mentality of people is andaman
definitely the mentality of the regime is becoming increasingly undemocratic
and reverting to the traditional Russian tendency to view the individual not as
an end in himself but as a means to an end the most ominous aspect of the Putin
regime is the fact that all evidence suggests that it came into power as the
result of a political provocation I won’t go into this in great detail it’s
it’s described in my book but in 1999 apartment buildings were blown up in
Moscow and in other cities and hundreds of people were killed while they slept
this these bombings were blamed on Chechens and used in order to justify a
second chechen war as a result of that war Putin who was put in charge of the
war which was initially successful was elevated to the presidency in Russia he
became the most popular candidate in the elections and he became president there
is abundant evidence that in fact the explosions were not carried out by
Chechens that they were carried out by the Federal Security Service which is
the successor organization to the KGB and it was a deliberate it’s conspiracy
intended to create the conditions for Putin to take over from Yeltsin once
Putin had become president his first official act was to pardon Yeltsin for
all crimes committed while Yeltsin was president of Russia in any case this
suspicion that in fact it was an act of terror that brought Putin’s of power is
widely held in Russia although people don’t like to talk about it because the
consequences are the implications are too terrible but since that time there
have been other acts in which the government appear
to have been involved in provocations there was the theater siege in 2002 in
which a poison gas was introduced into a theater that had been seized by judgin
militants and at least a hundred and thirty people and maybe considerably
more were killed on the the the perplexing aspect of that incident is
that an army of Chechen militants were able to establish themselves in the
center of Moscow and take over a theater without being detected in advance even
though it’s known that in their ranks were people who had been informers for
the FSB the Federal Security Service and that’s the the theater was attacked
despite the fact that the FSB had a person in the theater who was informing
them that in fact the supposed bombs that had been set up in the theater to
kill the hostages were non-functional and could not have exploded but the most
chilling in my view example of the mentality in in Russia’s ruling circles
at the present time was the best lawn school siege in 2004 I think you know
school number one was seized by terrorists in the city of des lon in
northern Ossetia which is a region in the Caucasus and the south of Russia and
in the in the fighting that followed almost more than 300 people were killed
and the majority of them children and those children were burned alive and it
is now clear on the basis of investigations that it was the Russians
who opened fire and that they used flamethrowers and grenade launchers on
up to attack a hall that was packed with hot with hostages and it’s also unknown
that agreement had been reached to begin negotiations with Aslan mascota
the head of the Chechen separatists one and
the the attack took place one hour before those negotiations were word were
to begin indicating that the authorities attacked not because there was a need to
attack but rather to make it impossible to carry out those negotiations as one
person explained to me the children in that school where their lives were
written off the moment they were taken hostage well there’s not a single
civilized country which would behave that way there was a case in Israel
where a school was seized in 1974 in my lot under similar circumstances and the
Israelis bargained with the hostages and were and in fact freed the peaked the
prisoners that they that the terrorists wanted freed in fact it ended there
ended up being a battle only because of miscommunications at the time but I
don’t think there’s a there’s a there is not a single civilized country that
would open fire on a hall full of hostages of particularly children under
these circumstances so what we have and is a situation in which the instability
in Russia is compounded by the fact that the regime is not afraid to use the most
brutal means possible in order to suppress a challenge to its power it
should be said that at the present time the regime is relatively liberal there’s
actually a fair amount of freedom of expression in Russia there’s no freedom
of political choice and and the the regime does not Brook compat competitors
it eliminates them in one way or another but Russians have no real say in how
they’re governed but they can talk and they can travel and there isn’t a
condition of mass terror but what will happen if the situation becomes really
unstable and the reason feels threatened are the examples of the
apartment bombings the theater on Dubrovka and Aslam
not to mention other incidents for example the killing a banner
Politkovskaya Russia’s outstanding investigative journalist or the
poisoning in London of Alexander Litvinenko are these indications of what
the regime is capable of if it becomes challenged if it if it becomes
threatened I’m afraid that that they are so when did the circumstances we face a
situation in Russia in which the world’s second nuclear power the country’s law
at the world’s greatest oil exporter and a country with huge strategic importance
for the US and for the world has appointed a man as president who may not
really be the president and has created a situation in which the lines of
authority are far from clear and is under any circumstances deliberately
avoiding the path of genuine democratic reform which is the only thing that can
solve the country’s long-range systemic problems and those problems are fairly
serious Russia is a country which has the male life expectancy that is as low
as the most backward countries in the world life expectancy for men in Russia
is something like 58 now compared to 78 in the United States and even more in
some European countries Russia has the second highest according to statistics
murder rate in the world but those statistics are unreliable because in
Russia there’s a tendency and a frightening tendency for people to
disappear without a trace there are thousands of people in Russia who are
unaccounted for it’s highly likely that a large
percentage of those people have been murdered if they are included in the
statistics that Russia has the highest murder rate in the world the death rate
in Russia exceeds the birth rate now Russia has recently enjoyed something of
a baby boom but the death it used to be that there was one one person was born
for every one point four persons who died that Marcin has been reduced a
little although demographic experts believe that in fact the baby boom
cannot continue because of the effects the likely effects of serious diseases
on men and women in the chief childbearing years including the effect
of an AIDS epidemic so in some we face a country that for all of its present
riches and its research and power in the world as a result of those riches is
nonetheless deeply unstable and greatly in need of choosing a democratic path of
development which in fact is absurd the only hope I think for the future is
for the Russian people to become fully aware and determined to press for the
Democratic liberties that they have treated lightly in recent years by not
even interesting themselves in what it is that the Russian presidential
candidates and prevent parliamentary candidates intend to do in that way in
almost childlike fashion assigning their fate to the people who have so far been
responsible in their eyes for a rising standard of living
I’ve watched Russian Russia’s development ever since I first went
there as a graduate student and I hate to remember and to recall how
long ago was it was 1969 and the the threat that the the thread the ariadne’s
thread of Russian history has been the lack of respect for the individual the
until something is done in Russia’s political circles and in the
consciousness of the Russian population to recognize that the individual is an
end and not a means and that he cannot be used for some political purpose but
that his life exists as a value in its own right only then can we only under
circumstances in which the value of the individual is recognized can we hope to
see a change in Russia’s future in Russia’s political and social dynamic
and new hope for the future in the meantime we’re faced with the
country which is in stit is unfunded mentally unstable by its nature and if
recent events are any indication can only become more so in the near future
thank you now I will be glad to answer your
questions as best I can so if you’ll just to raise your hands if you have any
questions I will try to answer them the teachers and doctors are paid by the
government and there are also now private institutions there used to be
used to be entirely a matter of state institutions but the low-low value
attached to human life is expressed in low pay for doctors and low status for
doctors it’s also reflected in the low status of teachers in terms of their
salaries and what they’re paid I think that it’s they I doubt though that the
Russian government connects the pay of intellectuals with the possible
political danger that they represent on the by that but we’re that the case they
should be paid more in order to keep them satisfied so if they’re paid less
than the you know they they maybe they they
they they may become hungry and discontent discontented so I’m not sure
that there’s a connection there it’s just it but the the low pay is a
reflection of the fact that they’re not in private business they don’t have
really much in the way of opportunities to steal and they’re conveying a service
which the regime doesn’t evaluate highly as anyone anyone else have questions yes
please I don’t know the answer to the second
question the first question was 70% who showed up but what the age distribution
was I don’t know but people showed up it’s it’s interesting to you that you
oftentimes they show up out of habit to voted in elections in which they have no
real choice and this is a holdover from the Soviet period when when there was
only a single candidate but yet everyone used to show up that those who didn’t
show up would be called by the party the fuck whoever it was was the equivalent
of a precinct captain and it would be asked why aren’t you voting why aren’t
you here exercising you know making your voice heard of course I making his voice
heard voting for the only candidate and if you get the person said well I’m sick
I don’t feel like it the person would come a big when we’ll
bring the ballot box to you and they would show up with the ballot box and or
else they would call and say listen we can’t close polls until you come and
exercise your democratic right you’re keeping five people here all night would
you please come and vote you know this kind of thing well something similar was
done even you know this time – they were prepped there was pressure brought to
bear on people to vote by factory directors the people who are you their
bosses and in government institutions oftentimes the campaign workers for
United Russia are formidable for whatever we’re doing if people hadn’t
voted the head and showed up they would say why don’t you come please come we
need you to vote make your voice heard so on so it was really absurd to use
that language because there’s no know their voices in fact not valued but but
that’s the way it was but I think they’ve got a fairly high turnout 70
percent and it’s also a tribute to the fact that that Russians are pretty
apathetic there’s one guy one of the candidates is named Vladimir Zhirinovsky
he runs for the Liberal Democratic as you can
he’s the head of the Liberal Democratic Party this party is neither liberal nor
democratic but that’s the name that they chose and in fact it’s that the true
character of the party was demonstrated by the fact that Andrey Lugovoy who was
accused of being of having murdered Alexander Litvinenko in London and whose
extradition was requested by Scotland Yard by the British authorities he was a
candidate for Parliament on their list in fact he was the second person on the
Liberal Democratic Party list in any case you’re an auskey at one in one of
the debates that took pleasure one of the television discussions that took
place without the presence of men better threatened to kill the other person with
whom he was debating and and pointed to him and said that you can tell by his
face that he’s mentally ill this is the level of political dialogue but he’s
he’s he’s tolerated because people who are fed up with the lack of choice they
can vote for sure honesty as a way of expressing their protest and he in turn
is completely under control of their regimes so there’s no problem of that so
in any case the but but they do show up they do show up for a better better or
worse and and in reality from the point of view of true democracy better would
be better if they didn’t given the choice that’s fit so this presented to
them yes well a lot of positive things have
occurred for one thing the I forgotten the exact number but some thought so

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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