OPINIE: Russia IS a democracy

Een universeel recept voor democratie bestaat niet, argumenteert de Russische journaliste Maria Shirobokova in een scherp opiniestuk over de Russische presidentsverkiezingen.
During the last decade of democratic reforms Russia is widely incriminated of having switched to authoritarian governing. These charges are initiated by Russia’s “well-wishers” on both sides of the Atlantic. Certain leaders along with well-known international organizations are keeping a scrupulous account of all Russian lapses of democracy. Year by year the amount of such claims is rapidly growing.

Russia’s present geopolitical situation accounts for its firm independent position in international affairs. After overcoming the internal crisis, Russia has been restoring its reputation and power on the international political arena. In this respect the accusations of false democracy can only be considered a harsh response to Russia’s post-crisis recovery and consolidation. Unable to conceal its concern about the rise of the former empire, the West is beating the alarm drum.  

As a self-proclaimed democracy teacher and promoter, the US holds the record for a blatant anti-Russian rhetoric. The so-called Russian “counterfeit democracy” issue has largely been brought up during the election campaign in the US. After a commonplace joke that Putin had no soul, Hillary Clinton, the democratic  presidential hopeful, labelled Medvedev’s victory in presidential elections a historic milestone in Russia’s retreat from democracy.  
These are the laws of big politics. At a certain period of time, different countries have also found themselves under the fire of criticism. For instance, under Charles de Gaulle France also had to defend its right to an independent political course. The Constitution of the Fifth Republic provided for a strong presidential power and a party system reform. France walked out from the NATO and developed broad ties with the Soviet Union. All the above-mentioned initiatives triggered a big number of accusations, those of dictatorship on the front burner.  
I think that the Russian leadership doesn’t need to justify itself for pursuing an independent and strong policy that benefits the country’s stability and prosperity. In the nineties, Russia stepped followed the path of democratic reforms. The majority believed they were simply confined to the introduction of copycat political institutions of the developed countries. The results could hardly be called positive. Trust in politicains slumped to a critical low along with a dramatic decrease in government efficiency. Even the term “democracy” got a number of perverted meanings becoming a synonym of high-handedness and disorder.
There’s no universal recipe for democracy (though the US is likely to object). The contemporary science highlights the following democratic principles: free elections, democratic freedoms, the division of powers, a multi-party system and parliamentarism. Athens in the age of Pericles, self-governance in the Swiss cantons and the British Parliament are all the examples of democracy.
Russia is an enormous country, “a common house” of many nations and confessions. Democracy is not just a voting machine designed to express the will of a numeric majority. It is meant to serve the interests of all people, including ethnic minorities, and to ensure the country’s integrity. Russia has gone a long way to democracy. This is a deliberate choice that excludes any other reasonable alternative.

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