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Putin uses war on terrorism to tighten grip on democracy [No more elections for governors.]
The Telegraph ^ | 14SEP04 | Julius Strauss

Posted on 09/13/2004 6:55:28 PM PDT by familyop

President Vladimir Putin announced radical changes to Russia's democratic institutions yesterday that will give the Kremlin greater power than at any time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In what critics say amounts to a serious setback for Russian democracy, Mr Putin effectively negated the right of citizens to elect a regional representative. Instead, the country's 89 regional governors will be proposed by the president.

President Putin: it will 'make Russia safer and easier to govern'

The former KGB spy also announced that seats in the Duma allocated to single-member constituencies will be scrapped in favour of a fully proportional system.

The move will accord his United Russia party, which can already count on the backing of about two thirds of the deputies in the Duma, even greater control.

The announcement, made in an address to regional governors, follows the school siege in southern Russia that ended with the deaths of more than 300 people, half of them children.

Mr Putin suggested that his initiatives would make Russia safer and easier to govern.

But critics said he was using the terrorist attacks for political purposes. Vladimir Ryzhkov, a liberal deputy who was himself elected in a single-member constituency, said: "Such proposals have nothing to do with fighting terrorism. The Kremlin is simply using the momentum [from the school siege]."

Since coming to power five years ago Mr Putin has made no secret of his admiration for many aspects of the Soviet system. While he has pursued a pro-western foreign policy, he has heavily curbed media freedoms and brought down big businessmen who have challenged the Kremlin.

He has also done much to curb regional autonomy, a reversal of Boris Yeltsin's policy of giving the regions as much sovereignty "as they could swallow".

If, as seems certain, Mr Putin's measures are passed, the Kremlin will propose regional governors whose appointments will then be voted on by regional legislatures. It is unclear what will happen if the Kremlin's candidate is rejected.

Few dispute that many regional governors in Russia are hardly paragons of democracy. Some are corrupt and have formed alliances with unscrupulous businessmen and gangsters who have helped them win their positions.

Most Russians, who anyway associate democracy with the worst excesses of the Yeltsin era, are unlikely to complain about the changes.

But previous moves to curb the power of the regions have done little to raise standards. United Russia has a record of overlooking corrupt and even criminal activity providing that the representative is loyal to the Kremlin.

Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Mercator analytical group, said: "In reality the governors are not very well controlled by the electorate.

"But it is counter-productive to take the initiative away from the people. The first shoots of democracy are being trampled on. This is a move towards Soviet times."

Vladimir Rimsky, an analyst with the Indem think tank, said the move was part of Mr Putin's established policy of strengthening the central bureaucracy at the expense of local control. But he said he doubted whether they would make events such as the attack on the school less likely.

He said: "The administration in Moscow is unable to see all that is happening in the regions. The Beslan events prove that. Such a vertical power structure cannot be effective in fighting terrorism because it removes all local initiative and requires a long chain of approvals for any decision.

When something like that happens decisions have to be taken quickly." However, others said Mr Putin's moves were understandable in the context of a worsening security situation.

Alexei Pushkov, a member of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policies, said: "Putin's main concern is not the development of democracy, but the enhancement of security."

Other initiatives include the creation of a unified anti-terrorism agency and appointment of a close associate, Dmitry Kozak, to oversee the northern Caucasus, which includes Chechnya, Ingushetia and Northern Ossetia.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: beslan; bush; democracy; elections; federation; freedom; governors; iran; israel; putin; resident; russian; soviet; stalin; syria; terrorism; vladimir; wot
And you thought that US freedoms were curtailed?
1 posted on 09/13/2004 6:55:28 PM PDT by familyop
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To: familyop

Ah Vladimir our comrade.

2 posted on 09/13/2004 7:01:29 PM PDT by doc
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To: familyop

...a few links gathered.

Russian newspaper delivers some bitter truths to Putin

08 September 2004 16:50
Russia confirms further delays to Iran`s nuke plant

Russian FM To Israel: Chechnya No, Palestine and Iranian Nukes Yes
Ariel Natan Pasko

Russia defends arms
sales to Iran
Moscow says U.S. objects only out of self-interest
[and Syria]

Sep. 8, 2004 20:08 | Updated Sep. 8, 2004 22:27
Iran recruits 'human shield' for nuclear reactor

Moscow 'vehemently' opposes attacks on Iraq
Sees Saddam's terror-sponsor state as 'long-term partner'

Russian Delegation in Baghdad With Putin Message for Saddam Hussein

Russians Respect Reason For Terrorism

Israel Tries to "Win Russia Over": Report [Intel Barf from Islam Barf: One man's terrorist...]

Disregard for Human Life (Was Putin referring to the USA as the hostile foreign powers?)

Putin may be worse than we think

3 posted on 09/13/2004 7:08:20 PM PDT by familyop (Essayons)
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To: familyop

It looks like Putin had more to gain from Beslan than the Chechen's seeking independence.

4 posted on 09/13/2004 7:10:17 PM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP (Make all taxes truly voluntary)
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To: familyop

I'd trust GW Bush and John Ashcroft before Putie.

5 posted on 09/13/2004 7:12:34 PM PDT by luvbach1 (President Bush is conservative only when compared with the commies allied against him.)
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To: familyop

So much for the corner McDonald's in Russia...

6 posted on 09/13/2004 8:35:59 PM PDT by Righter-than-Rush
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To: familyop

Right - and the ACLU has started running an ad saying the Patriot Act needs to be fine-tuned, tweaked, whatever (i.e., gutted). If there was any justice, the acluers would wake up tomorrow living in Russia or anywhere that sharia rules.

7 posted on 09/13/2004 8:45:10 PM PDT by Let's Roll (Kerry accused countless soldiers of committing war crimes that he himself never witnessed . . .)
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To: familyop

Back to the old soviet system of you can vote for this communist or this communist. Sad to see but predictable knowing human nature and lust for power.

8 posted on 09/13/2004 9:31:37 PM PDT by vpintheak (Our Liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain!)
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To: familyop

Putin doesn't get it. He reminds me of Democrats. He is using this for his own advantage. If he REALLY wanted to get rid of terrorists he would allow more not less freedom. He should arm all males 16 to 65. He should create civil defense in everytown. Instead he glorifies himself.

This man is evil folks.

9 posted on 09/13/2004 11:31:26 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: familyop
It is unclear what will happen if the Kremlin's candidate is rejected.

Hungary 1956?

Czechoslovakia 1968?

10 posted on 09/13/2004 11:39:19 PM PDT by nsc68
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To: familyop

Wonder if we'll see tanks rolling through Moscow again.

11 posted on 09/14/2004 12:36:10 AM PDT by ItsForTheChildren
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To: SilentServiceCPOWife

There is a longer version of this thread somewhere...full of Putin Putzes defending him.

12 posted on 09/18/2004 1:52:42 PM PDT by CWOJackson
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