Russian democracy

INTERNATIONAL election watchdog OSCE’s decision not to send monitors to cover Russia’s December 2 parliamentary vote comes as an awkward glitch for Russian democracy under President Putin. Their frustration, owing to unwarranted “delays and restrictions” and “unprecedented curbs” on Moscow’s part is well understandable and justified, as the Kremlin clearly went out of its way to put bottlenecks in the visa process.

For President Vladimir Putin, the confusion ought to be a setback, no matter how minor, considering how his ratings have shot up over the past year, and the fact that parties loyal to him are expected to waltz to an overwhelming victory. In the scenario he has created since his February outburst at Munich, tapping Russia’s energy card and newfound economic resurgence to play very successfully to the domestic gallery, fair elections would have only bolstered his democratic claims.

Now, critics will be justified in crying ‘I told you so’, as charges that Putin is reintroducing authoritarianism reminiscent of the Soviet era gather weight. To his credit, Putin did not fiddle with constitutional nuances in ensuring his continued grip on power, unlike powerbrokers in numerous countries confounded with the prospect of upholding democratic norms and ensuring political survival at the same time. But his political manoeuvring is adequate proof that despite standing down as president soon, he harbours little desire of fading into oblivion.

Few Russians would disagree that Putin’s continued presence augurs well for the country’s immediate future. But the leader would be wrong in misinterpreting public support as licence for taking the system for a ride. History is replete with examples of the big falling hard once they attached their personal survival with their dominions’.

Russia is getting stronger and stands better than most in the crusade to empower its people so they can take affirmative charge of their long-term affairs. Despite the ups and downs, Putin has done a decent job of elevating their collective status. He would be ill advised to allow personal whims get in the way of the greater good.

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