News / Europe

    Putin's Start Points to Authoritarian Rule Through 2018

    James Brooke
    Vladimir Putin’s six months back in the Kremlin may say a lot about his next six years.

    In May, angry protests greeted Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term as president of Russia.

    On inauguration day, Putin's motorcade swept through eerily empty streets of Moscow, Europe's largest city. The streets were emptied by police -- and by a special five-day holiday.

    Opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov says Putin is an authoritarian leader, ruling in isolation.

    "If you look at Putin's last 6 months, after he came back to the Kremlin,  he became much more conservative, pro-Orthodox church, anti-Western, autocratic,” Ryzhkov said.

    Pussy Riot feminist musicians were tried for protesting against Putin in Moscow's main cathedral. The resulting two-year jail sentences boosted the Orthodox Church's backing of Mr. Putin.

    Nationalists were happy to see the Kremlin cut American foreign aid programs here, and to see Cossack patrols in Moscow.
     
    Laws restricting rallies and Internet access were rushed through the Duma by Russia's ruling party, concerned by what it viewed as foreign-sponsored subversion.  New laws labeled political activists and political actions that were legal last year "foreign agents" and "treason."

    Over 150 years ago, the slogan 'Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationalism'  was the formula the czars used to rule Russia. Will it work in 2013?
     
    President Putin says Russians first and foremost want law and order.

    Speaking December 20 at his annual marathon press conference, he said:  "The anarchy of the 1990s brought about the discrediting of a market economy and democracy. People started to fear those things. And I believe that order, discipline, following the letter of the law, it doesn't contradict democracy."
     
    Ryzhkov again: "A big part of Russian society is still semi-Soviet, semi-czarist,” said Ryzhkov, co-chairman of the Republican Party of Russia. “So it's an old, old, old idea and methodology on strong hand, a great power, a country surrounded by enemies, first of all Americans."

    In December, President Putin reaffirmed his year-long campaign against what he sees as foreign attempts to subvert his regime. Following those comments, Russia’s Duma passed a vaguely worded law that potentially bans more Russian non governmental organizations from receiving foreign donations.

    Before the vote, President Putin said in a nationally televised address: "Direct or indirect interference in our domestic political processes is unacceptable.  Those politicians who receive money from abroad for their political activity and thus serve, in all likelihood, alien interests shouldn't be politicians in the Russian Federation."

    President Putin also is trying a positive tactic. He is trying to snatch a key flag from the protesters: the fight against corruption.

    In recent weeks, corruption probes have brought down a Russian defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, and several high-ranking officials. State television has treated viewers to scenes of police removing bricks of 100 dollar bills from the home safes of government officials.

    Bernard Sucher, an American entrepreneur, is skeptical about this highly publicized fight.

    "As you start going from small to medium you start running into all of the heavy, dead hand of the Russian bureaucracy and red tape,” said Sucher, who has started companies here for the last 20 years.  “Clearly we have at a minimum a reshuffling of the chairs at the top table. That is not the same thing as addressing on a systematic or any kind of programmatic way even the symptom of corruption."

    Whatever the strategy, President Putin's goal is the same:  to reach the end of his term - 2018.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: NVO from: USA
    December 25, 2012 2:45 PM
    No people should have to be under the thumb of government! Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Plain and simple. Down with Putin.

    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga region
    December 24, 2012 9:38 PM
    Hypocrisy of Mr Putin’s words about democracy and law in by his clan-ruling of Russia makes me shudder. “Democracy” Putin-style is sooner dead than alive. Where are basic human rights, e.g. the right to be heard or express an opinion? I, not being a public person, am blocked from Internet access to any international broadcaster. My medical articles in Russian Wikipedia are deleted or ruthlessly “edited” by laymen. Putin’s democracy looks like shot-dead outspoken journalists; political activists threatened by piles of “sucked out of finger” lawsuits or shut down in prisons under any pretext. Putin’s law looks like Magnitsky died all by himself. With rare obstinacy he doesn’t admit that the strategy has already failed in Russia with the tsar Nicholas II and the demise of the USSR.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora