News / Europe

Putin's Start Points to Authoritarian Rule Through 2018

Putin's Start Points to Authoritarian Rule Through 2018i
X
December 24, 2012
Vladimir Putin weathered unprecedented street protests, won a presidential election, and returned to the Kremlin in May. James Brooke looks at what his first six months may say about his next six years.

Putin's Start Points to Authoritarian Rule Through 2018

TEXT SIZE - +
— 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.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid