mercredi 8 février 2012

assignment #1: russia

Full disclosure: I am in a course that requires me to write six blog posts about different topics discussed in class. I have no plans to create yet another blog to accomplish this task, so here we are. A little political reading is good for everyone!

Many leaders come to power promising many things for their electorate like opportunity, prosperity and, most importantly, freedom. It's with a quick hand that these same leaders seem to break these promises when their individual prosperity is threatened.

Vladimir Putin has been able to remain in power for over twelve years, always situating himself in the top positions of government. He was well liked by many, even countries in the West, by his so-called commitment to Russian democracy. These sentiments shifted when, instead of passing the torch along to his successor, Putin became Prime Minister of President Dmitry Medvedev's administration. Many predicted that after Medvedev would just be a puppet for Putin and some pushed further predicting that Putin would run for re-election through a loophole in the law. Today, we know this is so.

Russia is not, by any means, as oppressive as it once was. But it is not difficult to see how Putin's re-election campaign is counter-intuitive to a mission for democracy. During his terms in office, there has been a record of censorship and violence towards journalists who report on the negative aspect of Putin's administration. Those outside of Putin's circle are quickly discredited, even threatened to comply. One of those people was journalist Anna Politkovskaya was found shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building.

While Putin's fifth term as President is all but assured, opposition to his election has grown over the past months as tensions have risen among the Russian population. There have been countless articles and news reports speaking out against Putin's "regime" and the suffering of the Russian people at the hands of its current leader(s). Russia's dismissive action toward military action in Syria shows how little compassion its leaders have for humanity, etc. etc. etc.

But I have been struggling with certain aspects of these stories, and they do coincide. Prime Minister Putin was viewed highly favorably, even higher than many other heads of state, by his country's citizens. While there is opposition, it is the nature of a country to have oppositional groups. While Putin may be more aggressive to these groups, for the moment, Russian citizens are not fighting their own military for the ability to express differing views and for their lives.

Syria uses a similar argument, insisting that extreme oppositional groups are the cause of violence and deaths in the country. But their words do not match their actions. It's easy to see why Russia wants Syria to resolve their country's issues internally. Precedent set in Libya cannot be repeated lest the international community think it the norm. And if Putin's Russia isn't careful, they could be next on the list for an international invasion.

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