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Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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#6 - JRL 9309 - JRL Home
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 10:18:45 -0700
From: Janet Keeping <jmkeepin@ucalgary.ca>
Subject: Re: 9308-Johnson's Russia List [re: Western Journalists & Russia]

Are western journalists too harsh on Putin and Russia? In general, I think not. It is ridiculous to speak of Russia as any kind of democracy and the situation in the country is worse than it was a few years ago on this score. It is not just the specific retreats from democracy building that worry, such as the loss of gubernatorial elections and the law on financing of NGOs, but fear is back. (And maintaining a facade of blind obedience is the highest good.) One of the articles on today's list claims otherwise, and I would never suggest that the fear now is what it was in the heyday of the Soviet Union. But it is back. My friends will speak frankly about Putin and the direction he is taking the country, but they look over their shoulders first and they lower their voices. The same people spoke openly and boldly of Yeltsin's faults.

It is very important not to let the Russian government and Putin off the hook on lack of democratic development and it is a cynical betrayal of Russians' right to live in dignity and respect before public institutions to swap oil and gas (the production and consumption of which are in any event ruining the planet) for silence on these matters.

Sincerely,
Janet Keeping
Director of Russia Programs
Canadian Institute of Resources Law
The University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.