EurActiv has an interesting interview today with Fraser Cameron, director of the EU-Russia Centre, who argues that “Russia is a master of ‘divide and rule’” tactics, and says that “The key message is that the EU must be far more confident in its strengths in dealing with Russia and recognise that speaking with one voice, although it is difficult in some areas, is likely to produce far greater benefits than trying to cut bilateral deals.” Here is just one excerpt:
As a matter of fact, Mr. Medvedev’s election was not a ‘real’ election. Or at least, the EU stated that the election process in Russia did not allow for truly competitive elections. Obviously it was not really an election, it was an appointment. As soon as Putin had selected Medvedev as his successor, it was clear what the result would be. Having said that, there seems to be a lot of support in Russia for this kind of “managed democracy” at the present time, whereby people seem to prefer stability and economic growth rather than, as they see it, the chaos under Yeltsin in the 90s. But you can certainly have economic growth with greater democracy. Putin’s mistake is – and this is why history will not be so very kind to him – is that he had a great opportunity to keep moving Russia along a more democratic path. He enjoyed very favourable economic conditions with the oil prices rising all the time, but he went back on the genuine democratic freedoms Russia enjoyed in the 1990s, and I think for that reason one has to be rather critical about his time in office.