Nemtsov: Russia in Need of Democracy

From Boris Nemtsov’s new article in Kommersant:

On that background, a movement in support of the third presidential term for Vladimir Putin is growing. Under the threat of F-grading or salary non-payment, students, teachers, and doctors are forced to attend the rallies, collectively imploring the president to stay: “Don’t leave, Father, we’ll die without you”. Newspapers ignore it, because there has been introduced censorship. The opposition has no opportunity to speak either at federal or at regional channels. While saying that discussion is important, which Putin himself said this week, the United Russia refused to take part in debates. Consequently, the planned debate is doomed to be boring and full of meaningless accusations of parties against each other. One more circumstance: there have been created the conditions in Russia making it extremely dangerous to finance the opposition. For businessmen, the fact became evident after Khodorkovsky’s arrest. The United Russia is the only party in which it is safe to invest, and the investment will be good for business. All that leads to the following conclusion: Russia’s election on December 2 is becoming as lawful as elections in Belarus or Turkmenistan. That is the indicator of the state of democracy and political freedom in Russia, about which the US Congress debates. One might ask me: “Why don’t you boycott such election then?” The matter is, we have studied our Belarusian colleagues’ experience and we understood: waiver of participation in elections plays into the authorities’ hands. They will anyway create an illusion of wide choice by means of dummy parties created specially for that purpose. Russia’s democratic opposition should not give up the struggle, because there are those who stand for a law-governed state, freedom, and people power. After all, someone has to represent their interests. We, and not the U.S., need democracy in Russia.