Monday, October 15, 2007

Putin's Russia: Human Rights Abuse?

Recently, Secretary Rice met with Russian leaders to discuss the US's new missle shield that it wishes to place in Easten Europe. However, prior to this meeting, she met with numerous human rights activists to discuss Russian politics. While Russia is officially a semi-Presidential federal republic, Putin's grasp on the country's freedoms has been gradually diminishing over time. The Kremlin has been gradually increasing its power over the country, calling into doubt many of Russia's "democratic" institutions, such as the judiciary. Putin has centralized power, even taking control of Russian television. He even plans to run for Prime Minister after his constitutionally allowed time as President expires. This way, he will be able to run for Presidential office again in 2012. These signs clearly point to the fact that President Putin is tightening his grib on the democratic ways of moden Russia.
However, a few big questions linger. Is Putin committing human rights abuses? If so, are they severe enough for us to care? If they are, why should we focus our efforts on a democratic Russia? Personally, I feel that Putin is not currently committing human rights abuses. Throughout history, the political culture of Russia has had an authoritative lean. Even when the Soviet Union fell, many older Russians were not ready for democracy, even opposing its implementation. Russia has the sovereignty to do with its democracy what it pleases. However, if Putin takes his centralization too far, we may have something to worry about. Thus, Putin is not yet committing human rights abuses and his measures are not important enough to make a fuss about. In the Bush era of US democracy, worldwide liberty and freedom are of the utmost importance (ie Iraq). However, Russia does not have WMD's and is not abusing its people. Therefore, we need to respect the sovereignty of Russia and allow its political culture to naturally work out the best form of a democratic government. After all, "Russia" is not even 20 years old.

No comments: