The current situation in Russia is really disturbing the democratic world as well as democratic forced within Russia. Its national policy in regard to the opposition to the President Vladimir Putin and to energy policy of Russia indicates to the growing enforcement of the state, creation of the authoritarian regime in the country, the attempt of Russia to maintain its control over former Soviet Republics and gain maximum profits from export of energy resources such as natural gas from Central Asia to Europe. In such a way, the contemporary Russia is characterized by the formation of the authoritarian state which power is based on the high oil and gas prices and the control of Russia over the export of natural gas to Europe.
The article “Kasparov, Building Opposition to Putin” written by Steven Lee Myers is basically focused on the political events in the country and perfectly characterizes the contemporary political climate in Russia. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that this article should be viewed in a broader context, since the political development of Russia directly affects its economic policy, including its policy in the energetic domain. In fact, the author of the article shows the growing opposition to the current President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The author points out that the opposition in Russia is represented by different movements and politicians but Myers argues that Kasparov “may be the most prominent” opponent of the regime.
Basically, the author attempts to show that Russian society is ready for the protest and, being headed, by such leaders as Kasparov Russian people can actively protest against the oppression of their civil rights and liberties. In such a context, the protesters’ march in St. Petersburg on March 3 is quite symbolic because it united all opposing forces which included not only progressive democratic movements such as Kasparov’s United Civil Front, but also representatives of radical lefts and rights. The outcome of the protest was also quite symbolic because some minor leaders of the opposition participating in the march were arrested and the march itself was officially banned.
At the same time, the author of the article reveals another serious problem, the problem of the lack of the support of the opposition headed by Kasparov and other democrats in Russia. The explanation is very simple since people are poorly informed because new media are totally controlled by the state and any opposition is severely oppressed. In this regard, the author reminds about the murder of one of the major critics of Kremlin policy, the journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Being in a kind of information vacuum ordinary Russian people do not really understand Kasparov’s ideas and democratic values he protects. In this respect, the author argues that the level of life of Russians increases that leaves Russian indifferent to Putin’s actions such as the oppression of opposition, stifling of independent businesspeople, undercutting basic democratic institutions, such as free and fair elections (Myers). The forecasts of Kasparov concerning the future of Russia are not very optimistic, especially taking into consideration enormous public support of Putin and his successor Medvedev.
In such a situation, it is obvious that economic stability and stable profits from export and transportation of energy resources is of a paramount importance to Putin’s regime. In this respect, the article “Russia to Get Central Asian Pipeline” by Ilan Greenberg is particularly noteworthy because it reflects the energy and foreign policy of Russia which targets at the maximizing profits and monopolization of energy market and total control of Russia over the export of energy resources, such as natural gas, to Europe. This monopoly is actually the basis of the stability of Putin’s regime in Russia because it is due to high oil prices and the dominant position of Russia in gas export to Europe the regime can maintain economic stability and progress of the country.
At the same time, it should be said that I. Greenberg underlines that the agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to build a new pipeline around the Caspian Sea gives Russia “significantly more control over much of Central Asia’s vast natural gas reserves”. In fact, this agreement means that Russia will maintain control over the export of Central Asian natural gas to Europe while the construction of the alternative pipeline through the Caspian becomes economically unprofitable for potential investors. In such a situation, it is very important that all the export of natural gas will factually controlled by the state of Russia.
Thus, it is obvious that the current political trends in Russia target at the oppression of the opposition within the country, the establishment of the state control over media and businesspeople and strengthening the economic position of the country through the dominant position of Russia as the major supplier of oil and gas to Europe. In the future, the situation will hardly change consistently because the demand on oil and natural gas will remain high, while alternative ways of supply of energy resources in Europe are scarce that contributes to the monopoly of Russia in this field that naturally strengthens the political regime established by Putin.
Greenberg, Ilan. “Russia to Get Central Asian Pipeline”. New York Times, May 13, 2007. Retrieved January 6, 2008 from <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/world/europe/13putin.html>
Myers, Steven Lee. “Kasparov Building Opposition to Putin”. New York Times, March 10, 2007. Retrieved January 6, 2008 from <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/10/world/europe/10kasparov.html>
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