Should the U.S. Be a Political Player in Russia?
25/09/2012 1 comentario
Russians Have Their Own Ideas of Democracy. Kremlin’s demand that the U.S. Agency for International Development cease activities in Russia follows months of accusations by Vladimir Putin that recent anti-government protests in Russia are result of meddling by U.S. and other Western governments. Many Russians may not be convinced that such meddling is a fact. In the wake of Russian presidential vote this past spring, a Pew Global Attitudes survey found 58% of Russians believed the election protests were home-grown, rather than the result of Western governments attempting to destabilize Russia. Only 25% thought the foreign powers were behind protests. Moreover, 56% supported the protests for free elections, and fully 64% agreed that attending demonstrations gave people like themselves an opportunity to express their opinion. Over all, the survey revealed a wide gap between the freedoms and rights Russians valued and what they experienced in real life. Fully 71% said that it was very important to live in a country where the courts treat everyone the same; yet, only 17% said this described Russia very well. Similarly, 52% said it was very important to live in a country with honest elections, just 16% stated this was the case in Russia. Across these and other measures of political freedom, the gap between what Russians said is important and what they witnessed at home widened significantly between 2009-2012. Perhaps reflecting their long standing ambivalence regarding democracy, Russians this past spring continued to believe a firm hand was needed to guide their country. Specifically, by 25% point margin, more said strong leader, as opposed to a democratic government, was best equipped to solve Russia’s problems. And many seemed satisfied that Vladimir Putin, in particular, was at helm of state: 72% of those polled had a favorable opinion of the Russian president. Despite his broad popularity, Putin’s publicized suspicions about Western intentions appear to have had little impact on Russian views of United States. In the spring, 52% expressed a favorable opinion of America, essentially unchanged from previous year. At the same time, though, Russians were very negative about political exports from United States, just 26% said they liked American ideas about democracy. While many Russians disagree with Kremlin about who is behind recent protests in Moscow and other cities, most agree that Russia’s political future should be its own.