Thursday, June 25, 2009

Could Putin's new goal for Russia be liberal democracy?

The big picture is that Russia is the world's wealthiest country in terms of its natural resources. And we don't know its future direction at the moment.
- Brahma Chellaney
Our neighbors shouldn't be afraid. The imperial project is too big; our people in the government too practical. Russia can't do business along with this (imperial) project.
- Anatoly Adamishin
Putin didn't just take television stations away from oligarchs; he gave them to his friends.
- Edward Lucas

JOTMAN.COM recently live-blogged an eventful encounter in Helsinki between Anatoly Adamishin, former Russian ambassador to London, Economist European correspondent Edward Lucas, and foreign affairs expert Brahma Chellaney moderated by CNN's Jim Clancy. We asked Siberian contributor Sanjuro to share his reaction to the live-blogged discussion.

Sanjuro views the situation facing Russia's leadership as quite dire:
Now it seems, Putin Medevedev and Co. do not really have a clue as to what to do next if the energy prices do not bounce back to $80/barrel level. I am even guessing they would be glad to trade a safe retirement with whatever candidate willing to take over from them. Not just because EU might actually suddenly become more resilient to the energy negotiation tactics. I am also guessing they have no clue what to do with China. Any comparison with China would expose the reality of Russia as "superpower" - it's something that neither Putin nor Medvedev cannot deny even to the Russians.
As for the future? Could Putin's exit strategy actually be liberal democracy?
All this, plus the miserable state of the Russian army demonstrated in the South Ossetia conflict and in dealing with the North Korean nuke scare, tell that after a couple more years of erratic external policy, deteriorating relations, and continued oppression at home, there will be mellowing and confusion within the current establishment, that will end in a more or less disorganized transfer of power to a more liberal, pro-Western leadership that will be tasked with all the plumbing at home and abroad, and will have its chief mission of negotiating a face-saving co-existence with the EU and China.

(I would currently give it 6-10 years. Medvedev's first term will continue mostly "business as usual" without much change, but his second (or Putin's third) term will be aimed at arranging that transfer - if they have any brains left. Apparently they have - I was wondering why would Medvedev want the presidential term extended to six years , but now I think they are probably just trying to buy time to fertilize the political landscape and to groom that Next-Gen leadership. The deal would be return to semblance of democracy in exchange for no prosecution).
This is the second part of a series featuring reactions to "What kind of bear is Russia" -- our live-blog of the 2009 IPI World Congress panel. Don't miss Part 1 "Could Putin's new goal for Russia be democracy?" and Part 3 "Should Europe get tough with Russia?"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.