Russia is moving in the opposite direction from the West in critical ways: There’s a sense here that Putin is trying to preserve what is good of Russian culture and character while steering the country towards a freer way of thinking and operating — albeit still at a very Soviet pace. The West, by contrast, seems to be destroying its heritage and roots with initiatives straight out of the leftist playbook while becoming increasingly more shackled economically
They have propaganda instead of news, sham elections, and minimal freedom of speech and assembly.
Do not fall for the false choice. Repression may begin as a means to an end, but it always ends up being an end unto itself.
There was a window of opportunity under Boris Yeltsin, who preceded Putin, and who allowed a free press, but much went wrong in the effort to supplant the old Communist economy with a free market.
What the West failed to understand,..is that the average Russian was more likely to point a finger at foreign financial institutions and governments for imposing what many Russians perceived as a corrupt and dysfunctional capitalist system. That it wasn’t really much of a capitalist system at all yet wasn’t understood. This resentment was compounded by how Yeltsin (and later Putin)..routinely deployed anti-Western rhetoric to pass off any blame from landing on their own shoulders.
Every day struggling Russians read about the new billionaires being created by cozy deals with the government. You didn’t have to understand how things like privatization vouchers, loans-for-shares and rigged auctions worked to realize there was a huge scam going on.
the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.
So what should the West do, if anything?
In Kasparov’s view, we should not disregard human rights.
Just like old times, Moscow has become an ally of troublemakers and anti-democratic rulers around the world. Nuclear aid to Iran, missile technology to North Korea, military equipment to Sudan, Myanmar, and Venezuela, making friends with Hamas; this was how Putin repaid the West for keeping its mouth shut about human rights in Russia for eight years.
But asking the West to be more aggressive on human rights, may, in this bloggers opinion, run into roadblocks since economic sanctions on Russian cronies of Putin, or arms buildups in Eastern European countries, or military aid to Ukraine, could be considered by many risk-averse Westerners as a provocation of Russia that could lead to war.
There has been much dispute in the U.S. about our efforts to “nation build” in Iraq and Afghanistan and our attempts to install democracies in both countries. Much of Iraq is now under the control of Jihadists. The Islamist Taliban is gaining again in Afghanistan. The U.S. is supporting Islamic rebels versus the Syrian dictator, while Russia is supporting the Syrian dictator and already, a Russian plane that strayed from Syria into Turkish airspace has been shot down (Turkey’s leader is a good friend of Obama).
But to counter the mindset of not antagonizing other countries it could be argued that by ignoring the “total control” that Putin quickly imposed on Russia, that we have lost an opportunity to avert the “Winter” that Kasparov thinks is coming and which will cause hard times for us.
Winter is Coming – Gary Kasparov (2015)