If you’re trying to understand the recent protests against the Putin regime in Russia, one of the best guides is an outspoken columnist who has been writing trenchant essays in the nation’s leading newspapers over the past month. “Political competition is the heartbeat of democracy,” he writes, noting the absence of such competition in contemporary Russia. He describes Russia today as “very different from what it was in the early 2000s,” with a middle class that is now economically stable and connected to the world and is demanding political rights. “Today, the quality of our state does not match civil society’s readiness to participate in it,” he writes.
On corruption, perhaps the issue that most riles the public, the author is scathing. “The problem is much more profound [than that of individual corruption] - it comes from the lack of transparency and accountability of government agencies to society ... In the turbulent 1990s teenagers dreamed of becoming oligarchs, but now they opt for state official ... Many view public service as a source of fast and easy cash.” All these challenges to Russia’s development can be overcome, says the writer, only through more political competition, real rule of law and openness and transparency. What makes this deeply strange is that the author of these essays is Vladimir Putin, the architect, builder and chief enforcer of the system that he critiques.
Putin seems to understand Russia’s problems better than your average dictator. But he does not seem to understand that he is the source of those problems in many people’s eyes. In Putin’s worldview, he is the savior of modern Russia, the man who stopped its descent into chaos and poverty in the 1990s. His opponents see him as a warmed-over KGB apparatchik presiding over a new, improved Soviet state. Neither view is entirely accurate. The real hero of Russia’s rescue was oil. The dramatic rise in the average Russian’s income has been a consequence not of Putin’s policies but of oil prices. Russia’s future - and Putin’s - will likely depend on this factor and not on Putin’s skills, the opposition’s strengths or the power of Facebook.
The price of oil when Putin came to office was $27 a barrel. From that point it began an almost unbroken rise and is now $116. And oil is the lifeblood of Russia’s economy, providing two-thirds of its exports and half of federal revenue. It’s not just oil: 85% of Russia’s exports are raw materials or primary commodities, and their prices have also risen to unprecedented levels over the past 10 years. The Russian state has used the revenue to dole out largesse across the country. It is widely believed in the West that Putin stays in power through repression. In fact, he does so in larger measure through patronage and bribery.
Read the full article at TIME.
The link to the TIME magazine article doesn't work.
Zakaria does not know anything about Russia. Zilch!
I still laugh remembering his "Small but vibrant civic society" and pro-westerners Tolstoy and Dostoevsky! That was hilarious.
This time he came up with some meaningless rumble from an author he did not bother to name from a newspaper "leading" but unknown. And it is difficult to understand what is it about – even for Russian, who pretty much knows what is going on there from his own personal experience. So Zakaria, what exactly are you trying to say? What all this is supposed to tell the reader? Sorry, I do not really have any wish or time to read all of this B S at TIME.
I think Fareed made a point. Putin's power would have been less significant, had the global prices for commodities not surged.
So, rephrasing it: Russian economy is doing pretty well, people's incomes and standard of living were progressing steadily and significantly in the last 12-14 years, Putin's approach to Chechen rebellion proved successful, Communist and liberal opposition has weakened and was not and is still not capable of producing a single leader who could compete for the seat.... So with the outlook for oil prices firm due to steady demand from new big global players like China and India – Western Liberals should not really hold the breath in expectation for an opportunity presenting itself in the near future and have an easy ride in their strive to make a mess out of Russia... If that is the point Fareed was trying to make – that is fine. I agree. But I was under the impression that he was just spitting the venom again rather than trying to make any sensible analysis of the situation.
Вы – платный смутьян. Стыдно должно быть.
A KTO PUTIN TOGDA? TY IZ DEREVNI?
"This time he came up with some meaningless rumble from an author he did not bother to name..."
But he DID name the author. The author in question is none other than Vladimir Putin! All those criticisms of Russia's political condition that Zakaria quoted were observations from Putin himself.
It sounds like Andrey didn't bother to actually read Zakaria's article.
probably he is one of Putin's friends
With the world being in the shape that it's in today, Vladimir Putin is going to need all the help that he can get!!!
Even if increased revenues from oil & raw material exports have been a major factor, nobody with some basic knowledge of Russia would discount the enormous role played by Putin in Russia’s re-emergence on the world scene.
Having said that, Mr. Zakaria dislike of Russia, and Putin in particular is well known given his bitter criticism of Russia's ruthless handling of the Chechyan Islamic terrorist problem.
HOW RUSSIA CREATED ITS OWN ISLAMIC TERRORISM PROBLEM – by Fareed Zakaria – written even as the Russians were still picking up dead bodies from the dastardly Moscow a/p attack.
No wonder Mr. Zakaria wants to portray the rapidly raising Russia and their strongman Putin in poor light, and sow seeds of doubt when Putin is faced with some internal discontent given certain alleged voting irregularities.
What Mr. Zakaria fails to understand is that not everybody takes his COVERTLY CONCEALED biased analysis as gospel be it on Russia, or the deliberate denigration of the US, Israel, Europe, India or his undeserving praises of the Arab Spring even as these countries are being swept into the Islamists' fold, or defending Hezbollah, Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood as forces of moderation etc.
What is readily apparent by this and several other articles of Mr. Zakaria is that he will never back off from trying every trick in his bag to FURTHER HIS ISLAMIC AGENDA!
Is Fareed the topic of discussion?
Agree Putin's performance has been unappealing and his popularity may be quite justifiably declining, but how is placing an oil embargo on Iran oil exports and thereby benefiting Russia's oil exporting revenues, going to draw the attention of his supporters to any of his many shortcomings?
Strangely pro-dictator stance you have there.
Thanks for the CENSORSHIP Mr. Zakaria!!
As always my responses have to be truncated.
They let short posts through and censor long ones to discourage you – if they do not like your opinion. Happens to me quite often. Can not really blame them – I would do the same with CNN if I only could!
And yet you continue to post here...
Why does the full article link pull up an image?
Right .... Putin the oil drummer ! A befitting cartoon – because to Putin OIL is global politics .. and his wealth = power!
johnny – you are obviously easily amused. Why would not you go exchange jokes with your classmates. I am sure they have the same simple sense of humour you do. No offense.
Will an unlikely crash in oil prices bring Vladimir Putin down from power?
We like Putin, and we will defend Putin. Under the guise of "democratic opposition", certain people are trying to conduct the overthrow of lawful Russian government, by essentially thinking we are all brainless and will not see through the charade. We are not brainless, and we see through the charade. Our IQs are not in their 60s, in other words, and we do have something to lose by submitting to yet another inhuman experiment by the you know who.
i am sorry for you
sorry American Politics is finished! I think this is time for another generation and different type of democrazy which will come from either, Middle east/Russia or China where the world is heading to. as you must understand that the conciquence of any war must reflet to it origin
Don,t fail to understand that the worl is not only made for americans also remember African is coming to there feet after the long Colonialism
Really, and of those countries you mentioned – which if any actually *have* a democracy in the first place?
Like the fake democracy in the USA? Please.. stop joking.
IRANIANS have no balls
controlling iran oil fields, and attacking command and control, radars, ships is the first thing we must do.
clean soft target, attack 25 hours non stop and remain air superiority. using turkey bases, gulf bases, Arabian gulf and Arabian seas, Afghanistan base, iraq base up north, most of iran army are not in the mountains , iran has 45 opposition group the ant Iranians are more than 42 millions. help the kurds, ahawas fighters, mojahedi khalq, Assyrians, Arabs, Sunni of iran, Parsi and beloosh, lures and Turks and other minorities to fight, attack Tehran and qum cities and hunt down all those emmams that might run and hide in iraq. attack Hezbollah, all the other evil will fall including bashar al asad in Syria
Russia is the key to whats going on in Syria. They have pipe lines into Iran and other places. Putin is running his country like the old USSR....by fear and intimidation. Anyone that stands against him is taken away or charged with a crime. Putin is nothing more than a thug. He wants enough money to make Russia great again in the ways it was when he ran the KGB he doesn't get it and his own people want him gone.
Are You Kidding – you are just rotten ignorant liberass. That is all you are. You should mind your own business and do not lecture people how to handle affair in their own sovereign country. Limit you stupidity to making mess in your own!
Andrey you are a typical SOVA, why dont you go die for your Leader.
Go back to your pravda, you red turd!
Sometimes I think Fareed is like US zoinist ROBOT.
Mr Freed don't want to lose his job.
putin is a gay
عودة المجرم الارهابي المدعو ( ابو علي البصري ) المستشار الامني لنوري المالكي
بعد هروبه بطائره خاصه وبدون تاشيره الى خارج العراق بعد افتضاح عملية هروب الارهابيين من تنظيم القاعده المرتبطه باستخبارات الحرس الثوري وعددهم ( 12 ) ارهابي معتقلين في سجون القصور الرئاسيه في البصره حيث اشرف على عملية هروبهم الى ايران باشر المجرم ابو علي البصري في مهامه كمستشار امني لنوري المالكي بعد عودته السريه مع تكليفه بمهام جديده هي الاشراف على الخلايا الخاصه لحزب الدعوه وهي مليشيات مسلحه مقرها الرئيسي في محافظة بابل والجدير بالذكر ان ابو علي البصري تم تعينه مديرا للامن والمعلومات في مكتب المالكي بناءا على توصيه من قاسم سليماني كون المذكور عمل في جهاز السافاك سابقا وعمل فتره طويله في جهاز استخبارات الحرس وبعد تعينه كلف حصرا بالاشراف على عمليات التعذيب للسجناء من اهالي نينوى وديالى وضباط الجيش العراقي السابق والبعثيين المعتقلين في السجون السريه التابعه للمالكي وكان هذا المجرم يمارس التعذيب بحق السجناء حتى الموت وترمى جثثهم خارج حدود مجافظة بغداد .
الخبر الثاني :
المرافق الشخصي لابراهيم اشيقر الباكستاني وحقيبة ( Emergency bag )
وردتنا معلومات من مصدر مقرب من مرافق ابراهيم اشيقر الملقب ( الجعفري ) مفادها ما يلي :
سئل المصدر مرافق " الجعفري" عن سر حمل هذه الحقيبه عند مرافقته للجعفري في كل تنقلاته اجابه بما يلي :
1- الحقيبه تحتوي على مبلغ قدره ( 200 ) الف دولار .
2- اقلام ذهب .
3- ساعات يدويه ثمينه .
4- مستمسكات شخصيه خاصه بالجعفري ( منها عدة جوازات سفر ) .
وتبين للمصدر من خلال الاستفسار من مرافق الجعفري ان حمل هذه الحقيبه تحسبا من وقوع امر طارئ وبدورنا نفسر هذا الامر الطاري ( تحسبا للشلعه السريعه )
هؤلاء هم قادة العراق " الجديد " الحراميه ولا نستغرب ما يفكرون به لانهم اشباه رجال جعل منهم المحتل " رجال" .
А ты мудак м черномазая морда!
Mr Zakaria's analysis is far to cheap.I come from Nigeria were oil prices like in russia have been rising and yet we have nothing to show for it.I thing it still boils down to one man and how he uses this wealth to improve the lifes of his people.No matter what the western media and Zakaria would like us to believe,most russians and people arround the world who can look beyong the western media propaganda can testify that VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH PUTIN is singlehandedly responsible for the RUSSIAN RENNAISSANCE.Ithink that is what matters to putin.
That is right Daniel! For some reason the same oil prices failed to make any of the ME leaders more popular, but have had this great effect on Putin's standing. Just load of crap – again.
What Fareed doesn't understand ( or simply willfully ignores ) is that proclaimed "democracy / freedom" that US usually uses to justify foreign interventions are just that – convenient words! US only invades foreign countries when this serves US interests. If freedom would be of any importance – US should have invaded Saudi Arabia first.
Eltsin was convenient and beloved in the west as a weak person that sells national treasure. Putin is strong leader and would fight west tooth and nail for Russia. That's the only reason US hates him. Democracy and freedom – pleeaazzz – people laugh when they hear Hillary syaing this..
Your analysis is good.I think Hillary should now announce withdrawing veto right from UN so that world matters can be solved in a democratic way by all nations together. Let Ms Hillary flourish democracy.After announcement people need not laugh at Hillary's democracy
Here's the truth. Western minds (government, civillian, business, et al) view this situation through a western lens. Russian politics have actually never been managed according to democratic standards, which is why they are frequently ignored as belonging to the European continent: a fundamental aspect of that continent's character is not practiced in Russia. However, Russians have always thought themselves to be at least the equals of Europeans, and so use them as the measuring stick for Russian progress, success, etc. That Putin looks more like a developing world strongman than a developed world liberal is insulting to some Russians. Russia is big and has great income inequality between the cities and the rural areas. Russia also has widely divergent political groups–where a unified support or rejection of Putin is impossible. However, as Putin knows–like Lincoln, Mandella or Mao (three leaders different in all ways except that they led during great transitions) he must abscond the throne to the transparent republic he claims to have laid the groundwork for. This is not a revolution with guns, but a kind of "Glorious Revolution" moment. Hopefully no blood will be spilled by either side. In short–Putin was the man for the moment, and even he realizes that moment is gone. What now needs to be answered is this: Does economic stability necessarily provide the climate for equitable political devlopment of a new Russian republic? It will take a very special leadership to bridge that gap. Without it, they get the Putin-by-numbers style oligarchy they currently have. And Andrey, you know this is the truth.
nointerestintheoutcome: Russia is a part of Eurasia continent, not of European continent, as you have stated. Though it is true that the biggest part of Russian population lives in European territory – to the west of Ural mountains. But in terms of territory – on the contrary.
You could say that "European" history of Russia has started only about 300 years ago when Peter the Great decided to "open the window to Europe". And Russians were fighting it all the way. And not really trying that hard to be similar to or to use Europeans as a "measuring stick". So it is quite difficult for me to understand where Zakaria took this idea from and why it seems an important point for you to make. I do not think that Russians have such a high esteem for Germans, French, Italians, Spaniards or British – or any other European nation. They are not hostile, as Europeans like to believe. And I do not know personally anybody who would hate Americans – as many people from Muslim countries do, for example.
I personally do not think Russia must be similar to any of these countries – play the same Republican vs Democrats games and call it the democracy...Democracy does not mean much. Well, at least for Russian people. That is just a word – nothing more. You can have a Democracy and have slaves – as ancient Greeks. You can have democracy and lead unfair wars. You can have democracy and completely ruin the country's economy and people's lives. You can have democracy and corrupt state and mob. You can have democracy and the justice system hijacked by corrupt professionals. Many people in the west believe that democracy is the proof of their freedom. I believe that I do not care – and that makes me free.
So all that is my personal opinion and my personal opinion only. Because, you see, unlike you I do not proclaim that what I say is The Truth. That is just what I think now. I am sure that not everybody shares my views – even among Russian people. And even I myself may disagree with what I say tomorrow – because I am not brainwashed liberal or something... Whatever works now and here – will do. Bad peace is better than a good war – that is another Russian saying, believe it or not!
I think it actually translates as, "A bad peace is better than a good scandal."
All talk no action! Stop arresting journalist who speak out again Putin! Then maybe someone would believe your propaganda laden speil.
Just because you kiss the rear of the strongman doesn't mean everyone does! Those who don't are killed off or dissapear, nothing new in Russia for the last 100 years.
Paul, you are a moron.Have a nice day!
I've worked with Russians for 20 years, and Russia was, is and will remain a HORRIBLE country. No other place I've been to is as ruthless, corrupt to the core, and cold-blooded as the damn Russian pigs.
Stay away from Russia, they're the WORST place to live in or do business with.
So Nick: you hated them, they hated you back. Sure considered you a pig – like you believe they are.
And so you carried on for 20 years. Quite pathetic – isn't it? Could not find any work or take your business to a better place?
Exactly! Stalin-love'n britches!
I agree with Mr. Zakaria. Oil has put Russia's economy on the ascent, and now that the economy is suffering, the protests begin. However, what I think is most significant isn't that Putin will be re-elected (he surely will), but how will he proceed as a leader? Will he be the Putin the world knows today, or will he create himself into a more democratic leader with a Western twist?
As Mr. Zakaria states, it is not quite the correct understanding to call Russia "a new Soviet state," as one can see all the freedoms the Russian people have compared to the Soviet Union. Yes, the press is still not "free" like the West, at Putin's hand, but Russians have remodeled apartments, can buy furniture at Ikea, and purchase vacations and foreign-made cars. That's a far cry from hopefully receiving an old Lada in the Soviet lottery.
Another aspect to consider is Putin is a businessman and he understands Western business practices very well, as he brought in Western business as deputy mayor in Petersburg, and then helped Yeltsin's administration with the legal aspect of business. Therefore, I wouldn't rule him out entirely when faced with a tough economy. It would start to get terrifying for Putin if the US finally starts to become innovative and puts forth a new form of energy, esp. in regard to automobiles and factory-made products, thus leaving Putin standing alone in an oil field in the taiga. Many Americans don't realize, or are starting to realize, we're feeding Russia's economy and government by buying gas from Lukoil, and if we stop doing so, Russia is in trouble.
Thank you, Mr. Zakaria for this insightful article. I will look forward to more.
author of I, Putin (Vladimir Putin novel)
Jennifer, have you written a novel about Putin? I am sure that is not such a feat for you, considering how much you know about Putin and Russia.
I have to confess quite intrigued by your last comment. So could you please explain me how exactly Americans are buying that gas from Lukoil? Do you get it by tankers from some deep-water port? Or is there any pipeline Taiga-Prairies? And how much oil and gas Americans buys from Russia? I am just wandering like how much trouble Russia could really expect? So, could you at least give me a rough idea of what share of Russian overall gas and oil export goes currently to US? You sure know that – as an author of "I, Putin".
Jennifer, I have looked up the statistics: in 2009 Russian export to US totaled 13.8 billion dollars – that is 3.1% of what Russia has exported that year. Go figure
Putin's pet dog on the attack!
well i think Russia should be left to decide its fate, if democracy is not the best state for them, so be it! Look at what is now happning in LIBYA& EGYPT after "democracy"!! Chaos and Anarchy!. Putin is a stabilizing factor in Russian Politics and if Oil is propping him up, then it is good for him as long as the wealth casacdes down to the man on the street.
Putin is an alcoholic and a traitor. I wouldn't entrust a country - any country for that matter - to him. Why alcoholic? It's just a matter of fact. Just ask his wife. Why a traitor? Look back into his KGB days in Germany.
This man Puitin is still KGB at heart. Like I said b4 if you open up his head you will see maps and plans of his evil. He was the brain behind an evil empire – global assasinations , murder of Russian democrats, international espionage.
If you study his climb to power – it was all accidental. He is neither a season politician nor one during the days of the evil empire.
If you are good oberserver of the human face, Puitin has eyes that stamps him as a cunning, heartless, coniving man. Thats how he stays so long in power – he uses his oil money to bribe his Russian croonies and military – to remain in lower.
But that will be history soon.
Russians at large are ready to dispose him, and their voices is getting louder and stronger.
Johnny, if you are the only one hearing the voices – that is not good. Even if you are say in Russia and hear Russian voices – that would be still a concern.
You are hilarious Audrey. Btw, Hilary shares the same observation (in private), she doesnt trust Putin because of his looks! Go ask Wikileaks.
I can always depend on Hillary's experience judgement, especially on other politicans she know very well.
Give us the facts, not some old worn out theories please, thank you grandma.
You guys need not worry about Putin's regime, worry about Obama's regime or whatever regime your meaningless election process and political system yelds in the future. I don't really get what Fareed and people like him want to happen in Russia. Let's see what the Putin's opposition is: first place – communists, does Fareed want them to lead Russia. He just might be bored and longing for the old times, right? Second place – people whoi want Russia to be a Parlament Republic, say what? Does Fareed wants Russia to go backward? I think he does... again. Third place – socialists, not much difference here with communists. Forth place – independent presedential candidate, a business man, democratic, who knows zilch about politics and will loose the country in no time. He is perfect from the Fareed standpoint. Do you even see one alternative to Putin here for the Russian people? Talk all you want, you can even show pro-Putin rallies of hundreds of thousands and say these are anti-Putin demonstrations, Russian people know better. Watch your damn politics and economy.
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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