The abuse of public power by government officials is widely spread throughout the country and corruption is already a way of national thinking in Russia – claims political analyst
After a decade of autocratic rule, there is no any political force, which could challenge the dominance of the ruling United Russia Party and Vladimir Putin himself. Taking up his duties in 2000, Putin made significant efforts to eliminate all the possible political rivals including Boris Berezovsky who fled to London and Mikhail Khodorkovsky who was put in jail on a charge of financial fraud.
The latter was actively supporting a number of anti-government movements and non-governmental organisations, and was supposed to be the person who could hypothetically undermine Putin`s domination in the political life of Russia for decades to come. Then Putin neutralised nearly all independent media resources, clogged up every single channel for public participation in the decision making processes and blocked every opening for the emergence of autonomous force on the Russian political scene.
As a result of the aforementioned measures, nowadays the Russian political system is rotten to the core. The system of checks and balances, that is to say the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution do not act at all. The abuse of public power, office and other resources by government officials are widely spread throughout the country. I would even dare to go a good deal further and say that corruption is already a way of national thinking in Russia.
Moreover, there is a considerable gap between formal institutions - which mainly meet democratic standards and informal practices, which do not. This system seems to exhibit more and more commonalities with the Soviet past. And it is quite obvious that Russian authorities have no willingness to change the situation for the better. Leaving aside the domestic consequences of these fatal flaws in the political system, it has also quite interesting to review the negative impact of the abovementioned deficiencies on Russian foreign policy.
The lack of democratic values and institutions in Russia
, in effect, may cause serious problems for the latter in the realm of geopolitics. There are already a couple of neighboring states in the Post-Soviet area, which are seeking alternatives-chafed under Moscow`s blunt force efforts. The most vivid example is Georgia. After the tragic events of August 2008, the Georgians are unhesitatingly heading towards European integration and larger involvement in the North Atlantic Alliance projects.
Georgian president Saakashvili said in connection with the opening of intensive dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation: "Our aim is clear - to have firm guaranties of our security, our development and European future. I think that NATO is absolutely the crucial factor of our security, and the Georgian people understand this fact very well."
In October 2011, Vladimir Putin floated the idea of Eurasian Union. The latter is based on the example of the European Union`s integration and aims to strengthen the influence of the Kremlin in the Post-Soviet area. By many accounts, it is an attempt to restore the lost power and influence of the USSR at least in the relations with the Post-Soviet neighbors. But the main problem with the Eurasian Union is the lack of value system, which in case of the EU is one of the pillars of the cooperation.
Russia as the driving force of the Eurasian movement, in fact, has nothing to offer in terms of values. According to Putin, the Eurasian Union would build upon the best values of the Soviet Union. Needless to say that - the so-called Soviet values in effect were nothing else but an embodiment of arbitrary state intervention in the private life of citizens, total corruption, nepotism and so on.
The deputy prime minister of Russia and the former first deputy of the chief of the Russian presidential administration Vladislav Surkov, who is seen as the 'Grey Cardinal' of the Kremlin, described Russian political system as sovereign democracy. According to Surkov, sovereign democracy is "a society's political life where the political powers, their authorities and decisions are decided and controlled by a diverse Russian nation for the purpose of reaching material welfare, freedom and fairness by all citizens, social groups and nationalities, by the people that formed it".
Obviously, this specific Russian model of democracy is more hype than reality and does not even satisfy the requirements of the most modest democratic concepts like minimalist definitions of Joseph Shumpeter and Adam Prezevorsky, let alone thicker conceptions.
We can even reformulate Prezevorsky`s famous definition and adjusting it to the Russian political reality argue that "sovereign democracy is a system in which parties do not lose elections". Although the experience of the long-term cohabitation and ethnic, cultural or religious affinity with the states in the post-soviet area, give Moscow an edge over the competition with the west - under the conditions of globalisation when boundaries and cultures blur, there are more and more young people in the Post-Soviet area with identities which are not based on ascribed traits, but on shared values.
These people, sooner or later, will become the decision makers in their societies and will hardly be eager to have allies like modern Russia where basic human rights are violated and the whole system of governance is corrupt and inefficient. The Kremlin is actively flexing its economic muscle trying to affect the policies of nearby states, but if Russians want to preserve their leading position on different regional scenes in the long run - they must embark on the path towards democratic development, peace and prosperity.Tigran Grigoryan is a participant in the youth peace ambassadors project at the Council of Europe and a political analyst