Despite the fact that in the center of Europe there is a full-scale war unleashed by the Kremlin against Ukraine, in a number of European countries, in particular the Baltic states, there is a discussion about the ability of Russia to return to the path of democracy in principle?
This, in particular, is evidenced by the recently published article by the Member of the European Parliament, former Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius “Our Russian psychological complexes”.
Kubilius, the European Parliament’s permanent rapporteur on Russia, keeps the pulse of the times, and that’s why his discussions on this subject are interesting. At the same time, he notes, like the vast majority of other experts, that it is possible to talk about any form of democratization of Russia only after the departure of Vladimir Putin from power.
At the same time, the MEP is aware that few people in the West share his position on Russia’s ability to return to the democratic path of development in the future.
Nevertheless, he continues to believe in the reality of such a metamorphosis, believing that it will contribute to the overall normalization of relations and the restoration of partnerships. Moreover, Kubilius believes that the West must develop a clear strategy to ensure that the necessary transformations in Russia towards democracy are carried out.
In this regard, the Russian service of the “media” asked to talk about the problem of Russian experts.
“The crisis of the Putin regime is inevitable”
The scientific director of the Levada Center, Doctor of Philosophy Lev Gudkov, in an interview with media, admitted that he saw no signs of “imminent democracy” in Russia. According to him, on the contrary, today the dictatorship in the country is growing, although at the same time it is becoming less and less stable.
“However, the regime is maintained mainly by repression, both against the opposition and against senior and middle officials,” he added. – Every year, according to Russian political scientists, about 2% of Putin’s nomenclature is stopped. Therefore, for 5-6 years, about 10-12% of different types of leaders, including regional governors, ministers, and department heads, are persecuted. With such purges, the authorities manage all the same to control the balance of the interests of the various groups to maintain a relative stability in the country. But this also leads to the fact that the management system becomes less and less efficient, makes more and more errors, and malfunctions accumulate.
Therefore, the crisis of Putin’s regime is inevitable, says Lev Gudkov. According to his forecast, it can be expected a little earlier or a little later with a high degree of probability.
“But that will not mean that democracy will replace the regime,” he argues. – Because the political field in Russia is completely burned, and so far, judging by our research, I do not see the potential for self-organization in society or the will of any force to create informal structures that could take power, carry out the necessary reforms and ensure a gradual transition to democracy. Here, God forbid, so that the country does not slide from one extreme to the other, or even worse,” summed up the scientific director of the Levada Center.
“Putin’s successor could theoretically launch liberal reforms”
Russian opposition politician Leonid Gozman admits that Russia is back on the road to democracy, but “just not under the current regime”. According to him, the Putin regime is “categorically incapable of democratization”
“Under Putin, there is no ideology, there is only a regime of personal power, and nothing else”, declares the interlocutor of media. – Therefore, there is no return to the Yeltsin period of democracy and is not expected in the foreseeable future. Today, the only question is whether the regime will become even more dangerous and bloody. But Putin’s successor could theoretically launch liberal reforms. Why not – Russia has already taken the path to becoming a democracy. But here it is clearly premature to look ahead, to detail how all of this may unfold.
However, in no case does anyone say that the process of democratization of the country will be simple and quick, explained Leonid Gozman. According to him, Russia has completely lost the idea that “the state is only a mechanism that serves the interests of citizens”.
“If not, it’s already an occupation regime or something like that,” he argues. – Democracy, I remind you, is democracy. Obviously, such a concept is completely alien to Putin. But what he finally achieved by usurping power – the people are impoverished before our eyes, the state machine itself is also weakening, its controllability is lost. As a result of Putin’s rule, the level of security in the country has decreased significantly, which clearly shows the whole course of the war in Ukraine. The army is surprisingly weak and is only capable of barbaric actions against the civilian population.
Thus, democracy will be a salvation for Russia, and its neighboring countries will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief, the politician concluded.
“Any new leader of the country will be forced to open up to the West”
Putin’s departure from the political forefront, like that of Stalin, means an inevitable transition from authoritarianism to democracy, in turn, Andrey Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (USA), is sure.
“The current power system is highly personalized, and stripping it of its core will inevitably lead to sweeping changes,” he said in a comment to media. – Due to the war with Ukraine and the adventurous politics that accompany it, Russia will have few resources. Therefore, any new leader of the country will be forced to open up to the West, which implies a return to one degree or another on the rails of democracy.
At the same time, Andrey Kolesnikov agrees that Russia could face strong shocks in the future.
“Yes, a war between the elites for power with the use of security forces is also likely, as was the case after the same Stalin. But precisely because of the depletion of resources, the country still has to be opened up. I do not believe in the collapse of Russia and its further fascism in the context of Putin’s departure. We are already at the bottom, there is nowhere to go down,” summed up an expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
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