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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora