Is Russia a land of democracy or autocracy?
Nowadays Russia is an extremely powerful country and the expression of its power is frequent and visible.Some might say that this power is used to feed the rivalry between the east and the west also that Russian people are the object of manipulation of corrupt leadership...Is this thought a product of conflict of interest or is it cold hard truth?
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Russian mountains seem to have hidden its politics and created a shadow of deception upon the world Russian cold weather seems to have kept its intentions in the dark of the Siberian tundra...
Russia is a big and powerful country that is now visible more than ever but this power is in many ways abused and Russian interest is put before the interest of many other nations in the region or further...What we see today in this Eastern country is far from democracy.The opponents of the regime are removed from the political scene,the freedom of expression is in many aspects suppressed but still in comparison to the state this country was in before these seem to be the golden ages.And again we see the same question before us:Does the power of Russia leave its neighbors powerless?
Russia maintains democractic values in that there are elections, however this is limited as they are not 'free and fair'. Electoral fraud is rife in elections within the past 10 years, a practice which can't be eliminated internally as the executive branch of government maintains control of the courts
." Does the power of Russia leave it's neighbours powerless?", Wth all due respect that's the title of another debate and is not relevant to whether Russia is a democracy or an autocracy.
Anyway with that being said Russia may have a lot of problems with regard to disputes within the democracy but it is still a democracy in form structure and certain norms that are observed. And no Russian mountains don't seem to have hidden it's politics but the cold war mentality seems to have blown up a mist around it
Elections 'not fair'
The joint observer team for the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticised the election as "not fair and failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections," with "abuse of administrative resources, media coverage strongly in favour of the ruling party". The polls "took place in an atmosphere which seriously limited political competition" meaning "there was not a level political playing field". The 2007 parliamentary election resulted in United Russia gaining 64.1% of the vote.[[Monitors denounce Russian election, BBC News, 3rd December 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7124585.stm%5D%5D
lack of academic freedom
The European University at St Petersburg has been forced to suspend teaching after officials claimed its historic buildings were a fire risk. This forced all academic work to cease. The University had been running a program that advised Russian political parties, including how to ensure elections are not being rigged. The project they are involved in called Interregional Electoral Chains of Support was to develop and raise the effectiveness of electoral monitoring in Russia's regions. The university has also been attacked for having close ties to the west, particularly US and UK universities.[[Luke Harding, Russian university that advised on election monitoring closed as fire risk, The Guardian, 11th Febuary 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/11/russia.highereducation%5D%5D
Structure of a democracy
Russia has the attributes of a democracy. It is a federal state with a constitution. It has a two chamber legislature; the lower house is the Duma with 450 members elected from nationwide party lists based upon proportional representation. The Upper house; the Federation Council has two representatives from each of Russia’s 89 regions and republics that are chosen by the regional governors and legislatures. Elections for the President are every four years who then appoints the prime minister who in turn appoints the government.[[http://www.economist.com/Countries/Russia/profile.cfm?folder=Profile-Political%20Structure]] Russia therefore appears to have the necessary structure to be a democracy as each of the branches or government are independent.
Question of whether abuses are being conducted by Russian government itself
The murders of Anna Politskayva and Natalia Estemirova amongst other human rights activists are both tragic horrific events but there is a question of whether they were committed by the Russian government or even for that matter whether the government had a hand in it at all. There have been oppressive anti democratic elements that have operated outside governments in the past such as the Ku Klux Klan and there will continue to be. Also a Russian film said it best "It is always much easier to organise inhumanity in our country than anywhere else" I would add to that comment that it is easy for independent elements in Russia to organise abuses in Russia because it is a large country.[[http://en.novayagazeta.ru/data/2009/039/00.html]]
Whether the murders are being done by the government or not does not really matter. If the Government had no hand in the crime it cant change the fact that in Russia there is a large amount of politically motivated murder and this no matter the cause dammages democracy. Does it matter if it is not the government who is scaring off (or killing) democracy advocates, the result is the same; less people willing or able to say what they think.
Being a large country with a small population does not seem to make Australia or Canada less democratic!
There is still a democratic right to freedom of speech in Russia
Shortly after Estimirova's death the head of the human rights organisation she was working for Memorial issued a strongly worded statement alleging the involvement of state authorities and the area's premier Ramzan Kadyrov [[ BBC Online "Vow to Catch Chechen Assassins http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8153613.stm.%5D%5D This statement was not suppressed in Russia and means that there is a significant amount of freedom of speech. There maybe a strong amount of state control of the press similar to Italy which is a problem but the right still remains.
What do you think?