Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Saying Nyet to Freedom
Magic City Morning Star ^ | Jun 12, 2006 | Ed Feulner

Posted on 06/13/2006 11:36:07 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

Leaders of the world’s freest countries will flock to an increasingly unfree nation next month. That’s when the annual Group of 8, or G-8, meeting will draw the leaders of Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and the United States to Russia.

The first seven have plenty in common, including a commitment to democracy, liberty and the rule of law. It’s no surprise that in the post-World War II era these countries have built the strongest economies in the world.

The “odd man out” of that gang is the host country Russia.

It was invited to attend meetings of the then-G-7 in the early 1990s. The idea was to prop up the flailing Boris Yeltsin by making Russia look like a member of the club, even though it didn’t actually qualify based on income or economic growth. Eventually, though, this Russia photo-op turned into a full membership.

But the Russian economy falls woefully short of first world standards. Recently, in fact, it’s regressed. It claims to support free markets and the rule of law, but under President Vladimir Putin (a former KGB official elected in 2000) Russia increasingly serves as a haven for corrupt government officials and uneven law enforcement.

Ask William Browder, an American businessman who works extensively in Russia. At least he used to, until six months ago when Moscow denied him a visa to return to the country.

Browder, the foreigner with the most money invested in Russia, recently told Newsweek International that dealing with the Russian government is “like trying to fight the shadows. You’ll never know who your opponent is.”

Browder points out that many Russian companies aren’t merely linked to the Kremlin -- often they’re partially owned by the government. That includes energy giant Gazprom, which is 51 percent state-owned.

That socialist approach breeds corruption. “In 2000, we discovered that the management of Gazprom had stolen 9.6 percent of the reserves for their own economic benefit,” Browder said. Still, it took eight months for Putin to fire Gazprom’s CEO.

Because the government is so involved with the economy, businessmen such as Browder often find themselves dealing with the Russian secret police. That’s a particular problem, Browder says, because “they are accountable to nobody; they don’t ever justify their actions.”

Businessmen aren’t alone in struggling against the Russian government. Non-profits are being targeted as well. With a recent law, the Kremlin gave itself the power to regulate some half a million NGOs, including 148,000 public policy organizations. Last month Putin signed executive orders that gave the Russian bureaucracy broad control of these non-governmental organizations.

The Heritage Foundation’s Yevgeny Volk, a Moscow-based analyst subject to the new law, says the regulations spring from the Russian government’s concern about the famed “color revolutions” such as those in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Foreign NGOs supported those revolts, which replaced autocratic, Soviet-style rulers with democratically elected governments.

Putin’s obviously concerned the same thing could happen to his government, so he’s making it clear he won’t allow foreigners to finance political activities in Russia. His government will hassle NGOs and tie them up in so much red tape they won’t be able to function effectively. For example, NGOs now must explain how much they spend for office supplies. Putin wants to highlight that his government’s sword is mightier than an NGO’s box of pens.

The world’s freest economies aren’t doing the Russian people any favors by pretending that Putin’s government belongs in the G-8.

It’s time for the democratic leaders to drop the charade and insist that Russia prove it’s dedicated to open markets and the rule of law. When it does, it can earn its place in the international community and make life better for its citizens.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: communism; g8; geopolitics; russia; sovietunion; trade

1 posted on 06/13/2006 11:36:08 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe

Russia remains a corrupt totalitarian state, as it was under the Tsars and the bolcheviks. Things haven't changed much since the emancipation of the serfs.


2 posted on 06/13/2006 11:54:44 AM PDT by ozzymandus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe

I have to chuckle. Some Russian FReepers have periodically shown up here to complain that the US did nothing to help them democratize or shake off their capitalist roots. They have also scoffed when I informed them that Putin was slowly taking Russia back to the bad old days of the USSR. Perhaps, today, they see the light.

When the USSR fell, Russians who wanted out from under the communist system could do and did something else. Many, as a result, have become quite wealthy. The rest of Russia spent their time complaining that capitalism was bad and lamenting the Soviet system.

Well, they're getting it back, thanks to Pootie-Poot, and the rest of us are being dragged back into another Cold War. Russia had their shot and blew it. Expect no tears from me.


3 posted on 06/13/2006 11:59:44 AM PDT by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DustyMoment

There is the "reversion to the norm [or mean]" law - it is a somewhat indirect corollary of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Here is a certain type of society, with its own way of life, as it has historically formed over the centuries. And this way of life has its own "historical norm", to which such a society would tend to revert after any perturbations.


4 posted on 06/13/2006 1:41:54 PM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe
Leaders of the world’s freest countries will flock to an increasingly unfree nation next month.

Russia is not the only country "increasingly unfree". Putting aside PC/smoking issue, see how the high-rise window washer in Massachusetts is facing long prison term for killing a gull, in self defense!

Ruffled feathers

5 posted on 06/13/2006 2:03:54 PM PDT by A. Pole (Joanne Senier-LaBarre: "We Wish You a Swinging Holiday!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole

Apples and oranges. One is talking about the political freedom here, freedom against the powers that be.


6 posted on 06/13/2006 2:17:26 PM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: GSlob
One is talking about the political freedom here

I see. So in Russia you cannot organize a political party? Or you are not free to voice your views? Or not free to travel? Or run for the office? What political freedoms Russians are lacking? Curious minds want to know.

7 posted on 06/13/2006 2:22:09 PM PDT by A. Pole (Joanne Senier-LaBarre: "We Wish You a Swinging Holiday!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole

Gerhard Shroeder is paid for being Putin's bitch. Are you?


8 posted on 06/13/2006 2:25:28 PM PDT by Feldkurat_Katz (What no women’s magazine ever offers to improve is women’s minds - Taki)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole

Try to voice above the threshold of becoming meaningful - and see what happens to you. Recent NGO story is a good example. Freedom of bowel movement is not a political freedom.


9 posted on 06/13/2006 2:34:21 PM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: GSlob
Recent NGO story is a good example.

Do you think that US laws regulating activity of NGO's financed from foreign sources are wrong?

10 posted on 06/13/2006 2:36:56 PM PDT by A. Pole (Joanne Senier-LaBarre: "We Wish You a Swinging Holiday!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole; GSlob
Russians can do all those things...probably more easily than in some of the traditional western nations.

It is amazing to see the social and economic progress made in Russia in such a short time (I was there the first time in 1992 and the last time in 2003 ---WOW!). In many ways economic freedom is more visible and real than in countries like France and Canada...and yes even in the US depending on the state...NY and states like it have essentially told private business to take a hike.
11 posted on 06/13/2006 2:47:57 PM PDT by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe

As for the NGO's - all kinds of fly by night NGO's came into Russia and tried to undermine the steady and progresive rise of freedom after the end of Communism. A good example is the Soros machine which set up all kinds of little outfits...in his attempt to influence matters.

Russian people are more than capable of setting up their own NGO's...and left wing influences are not welcome.


12 posted on 06/13/2006 2:52:09 PM PDT by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: A. Pole

The requirements are for them to register with the State Department [if acting as agents of a foreign government], if memory serves, and with IRS for tax exempt purposes. Are there any other requirements? How much red tape is involved in such a registration? How frequently is the registration denied? The degree of control involved in the US is qualitatively different.


13 posted on 06/13/2006 2:54:17 PM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: GSlob

Planned Parenthood and other NGOs seeking to interfere in Russian society do Russians NO GOOD and they are aware of it thankfully. We too should be more aware.



http://accidentalrussophile.blogspot.com/2006/04/russians-take-aim-at-western-anti-aids.html


14 posted on 06/13/2006 2:59:59 PM PDT by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: eleni121

Well, I always believed that you properly belong in the Russian paradise. I see it as an intrisically suboptimal society, with any attempt of improvement [even a Soros would be a vast improvement there] necessarily be [and be seen as] an interference with its very nature.


15 posted on 06/13/2006 3:48:25 PM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: GSlob

"...attempt of improvement [even a Soros would be a vast improvement there] necessarily be [and be seen as] an interference with its very nature."
___________________________________________________


Moving on as there is nothing of substance in your response.


16 posted on 06/13/2006 3:54:02 PM PDT by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: GSlob; eleni121; Romanov
Well, I always believed that you properly belong in the Russian paradise. I see it as an intrisically suboptimal society, with any attempt of improvement [even a Soros would be a vast improvement there] necessarily be [and be seen as] an interference with its very nature.

If I recall correctly you left Russia in 1981 and have never returned, correct? I can appreciate your negativity based on your prior experiences. That said, I don't hear anyone saying Russia is a paradise, it clearly isn't.

I first visited Russia in 2000, and quite frankly I did not see the communism I expected or read about for many years. Nor at that time was it anything like what I hear coming from the anti-Russian group on this board. I was shocked, and so I had a long chat with my best friend, a UMC minister, who spent several years attending school in Moscow and Russia in the late Eighties, and now returns yearly to teach in a seminary. He stated the difference between the Eighties and now is like night and day, with major improvement every year. Since my original trip I have noticed major changes for the better with each trip. Maybe, just maybe, you are shortchanging your country and its citizens.
17 posted on 06/13/2006 6:41:48 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Jesus on Immigration, John 10:1)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: GSlob

I didn't know the technical term for it, but I knew that what is going on in Russia wasn't unique.

It's too bad they couldn't break away from nearly 100 years of a failed political structure that creates an elite political class and relegates the rest of the population to second class status.


18 posted on 06/14/2006 3:40:55 AM PDT by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: DustyMoment

700+ years, not 100.


19 posted on 06/14/2006 5:32:39 AM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: GSlob
700+ years, not 100.

Well, yeah, I was just counting communism, not the failed Czars that preceeded the 1917 revolution. You're right.
20 posted on 06/14/2006 6:12:21 AM PDT by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: DustyMoment

The same "reversion to the norm" law has pretty gloomy implication in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, BTW.


21 posted on 06/14/2006 7:06:05 AM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: GSlob
The same "reversion to the norm" law has pretty gloomy implication in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, BTW.

From a practical standpoint, I agree up to a point. What the law can't predict is the desire by the Afghanis and Iraqis to remain free and independent. If we examine this solely from a statistical perspective, you are correct; all our efforts in those two countries will likely be for naught.

However, when we throw human will and human passion into the mix, the playing field has the potential for change in defiance of the law. I don't know anymore than the next guy whether the Iraqis and/or Afghanis truly have the will to resist the pull of their former political structures, or if they will support their new paradigm and go forward.

If you, or I, or anyone knew how this would turn out, they could probably make a mint consulting with both public and private enterprises wishing to involve themselves in the post-war economies of these two countries. Right now, all we can do is wait and see.
22 posted on 06/14/2006 7:24:49 AM PDT by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: DustyMoment

That same "human will and human passion" surely have not been absent from there over last 4000 years, have they? Here is what Huntington was calling "civilizations" - cultural entities with sufficient homogeneity within themselves and sufficiently distinct from one another to consider them as entities, and pretty stable on 1000 years time scale. "Reverting to the mean" is merely a technical description of the mechanism providing such stability.


23 posted on 06/14/2006 8:04:33 AM PDT by GSlob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: GSlob
That same "human will and human passion" surely have not been absent from there over last 4000 years, have they?

I think that in many respects they haven't been absent, just supressed. The tenets of Islam are not necessarily conducive to freedom, free will, or free thought. When one is constantly and routinely oppressed over time in the name of religion, the human will and passion are still there, but they are maintained and controlled far below the surface.

Therein lies the real risks of the gamble Bush took when he invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq. As Putin is currently proving in Russia, when the change is too drastic or sudden from a previous status quo, the national character doesn't take that long to revert to their prior "comfort zone". In Russia's case, that comfort zone is rooted in communism, as odious a system as it is.

The same may well be true of both Afghanistan and Iraq. However, there is a glimmer of hope when we look at the undercurrents in Iran. After gleefully overthrowing the Shah in the late 70s in the name of the Islamic Revolution, Iranians have grown weary of the oppressiveness of Sharia and the Islamic rulers. The seeds of revolution are reportedly strengthening as Iranians hope to return to the structure they experienced during the Shah's rule. He was working to bring Iran into the 20th Century and had almost gotten them there when the revolution occurred.

These, then, seem to be the influences that the Iraqis and Afghanis will have to contend with as they move forward. So, with history and statistics not favorable to a new paradigm, it would seem that the only thing that will alter the current paradigm will be that the desire to return to their previous comfort zone will become stronger than their desire for freedom. As I said, only time will tell.
24 posted on 06/14/2006 9:38:13 AM PDT by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe

Russia will be allowed in because China was.


25 posted on 06/14/2006 8:07:46 PM PDT by Thunder90
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DustyMoment

Putin is a communist with an image team and a makeover.


26 posted on 06/14/2006 8:08:19 PM PDT by Thunder90
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: DustyMoment

The same movement is happening in Russia (Many are calling for a return to a hardline USSR like Stalin) and is evident even in the PR China (Many are calling for a return of Mao-style communism).

It is also evident in places south of the border, such as Nicaragua where Daniel Ortega has a good chance of winning an election there.


27 posted on 06/14/2006 8:10:41 PM PDT by Thunder90
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson