Kasparov: The Demands of Dictatorial Power

Garry Kasparov tees off in the Wall Street Journal on Russia’s economic crisis:

Dictatorial power demands to expand into every available space. Establishing effective penalties will require great political will, especially in Europe. There Mr. Putin has defenders like Silvio Berlusconi, who boasted last week about how he prevented the EU from levying sanctions against Russia over its actions in Georgia. The Kremlin also has many influential employees, including former EU leaders Gerhardt Schroeder of Germany and Paavo Lipponen of Finland, who both took plum positions with the Russian energy giant Gazprom immediately after leaving office. With their reliable business partners in the West, the Kremlin has opened up a lucrative market for what could be called democracy offsets. In exchange for oil and gas from Russia, they provide democratic credentials and pretend Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev are elected officials rather than mafia bosses. Until Russia has a government that is accountable to its citizens, no company or individual will be safe here. The silver lining of the meltdown will be the weeding out of so many of the foreign and domestic profiteers who greedily abetted Mr. Putin’s drive to turn Russia into a dictatorship. But there are still many who hope that all will be back to business as usual once the dust settles. Apparently they think the show must go on, even though many of the lead actors have left the stage — and the theater itself is ablaze.