Russia must find its own way towards democracy. It has never known anything like this desirable state of affairs. At many levels Russians are deeply suspicious about the implied western values being imposed upon them. Of course this is primarily a top-down attitude but there is little evidence that there is much (remember it has a 300 million population), in the way of public “demand” for the various freedoms, that the western world characterize as democracy. That may well emerge over time. ‘Interference’ is how the state regards foreign-funded NGO campaigning and right now the state has a lot of support from the people.
Even more offensive in Russian eyes, thus probably counterproductive, are the otiose public pep-talks made by visiting western leaders such as the US President, pointing out their slippage, or lack of achievement in democratic standards. The Russians can and do retaliate by referring to a long and embarrassing list such as: the disgraceful Florida conclusion to the US presidential election of 2000; to the US engaging in an offensive war in Iraq without UN sanction, resulting in perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and many more injured; to the US unilaterally departing from the Geneva conventions on prisoner of war treatment at its prison camps, Guantanamo and elsewhere; they refer to such scandals as Abu Gharaib and of US agencies like gangsters hijacking suspects ‘for rendition,’ off the streets of other countries – the list goes on. It can be summarized as’ people that live in glass houses should not throw stones’, let alone take a high moral line with other ‘malefactors’ unless they have satisfactory answers for such counter-accusations
In 2012 Russia elected a new president. To no one’s surprise it was Putin, the former KGB man that won. Although in Moscow and St Petersburg there were demonstrators in sizeable numbers in Russia, the largest nation state in the world but not throughout Russia. Russia is generally not cosmopolitan and the people have failed to ‘break though’ against repression. But people will always want to see improvements for themselves, or for their children. With TV, the internet, and the ability to travel abroad, Russia is no longer hermetically sealed as it was under communism. It is a matter of time
If Russia continues to succeed economically (and with an oil and gas based economy, why should they not), then amongst other improvements their people will want to see over time, will be those that we characterize as democracy. Russian citizens becoming used to much improved family and national circumstances are not going to want to be compared with other successful nations where opposition politicians and editors, investigative journalists, etc; are not politically murdered, shot down in the streets or their homes, without any one even being even arrested, let alone charged, or convicted
A smooth path to raising living standards will include such obvious improvements in life, but this is for them to achieve. It cannot be imposed in such circumstances, nor brought about by preaching. Our PRESCRIPTION is to stop trying to tell them how they should run their country, whilst making sure that the information as to what actually goes on, is fully reported and widely available in the international media, for any or all who may wish to do so, to access.