Russia: Trying To Start A Revolution


April 2,2008: The increasing use of police raids against government officials is interpreted as an effort to crack down on corruption. But some of these "clean up" operations appear to have more to do with intimidation than clean government. A common tactic is to accuse foreign businessmen with espionage, in order to get a better deal for Russian businesses. Or, in the case of a deal between Russians, the intimidation is to encourage a win for the pro-government player. The intimidation is part of a policy that has the government talking democracy and practicing police state. Public opinion is paid attention to, but much effort is also made to control what people think. Newly elected president Dmitry Medvedev recognizes the problem, and says he wants to persuade Russians to accept rule of law, rather than rule by fear and intimidation. This is part of a struggle to make some fundamental changes in Russian culture. Many Russians recognize that Russia cannot really compete with the industrialized nations unless there is an environment that tolerates entrepreneurs and innovation. For centuries, Russians were conditioned to look over their shoulder for approval. This included creative and scientific issues. Eastern Europe and China were not ruled by the communists as long as Russia, and retained more of their tradition of working without being smothered by tyrants and a police state. China is still a police state, but has found a way to let the entrepreneurs do their thing. Russians are jealous, and are trying to figure out how they can do that.

Russia remains hostile to neighbors (like Georgia and Ukraine) joining NATO, and to an American anti-missile system in Eastern Europe (for protection against Iranian ballistic missiles.) The U.S. is trying to placate Russia by discouraging Georgia and Ukraine from joining, and offering to keep the anti-missile system turned off unless Iran gets close to activating missiles that could reach Europe. Despite the media playing up differences between the U.S. and Russia, diplomats from the two nations have been in constant touch on several key issues. This includes the 1991 START-1 nuclear disarmament treaty. Negotiations are under way to work out a new version of START-1, after the current one expires in 2012. The diplomats are also trying to dissuade Russia from getting involved in Balkans politics (where Russia supports Serb ownership of Kosovo, where the majority Albanians recently declared it an independent nation.)




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