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Russia is sliding “back to the future” – to the late Soviet-style political stagnation. The December 2011 Russian Duma elections are a major step in the wrong direction, as the ruling United Russia Party is likely to secure two-thirds of the seats in the Russian Parliament while restricting opposition access to TV channels and public space. This will be a repeat performance of the 2007 elections, which gave Vladimir Putin’s party a constitutional majority and carte blanche to rule the country as he sees fit. The December 2011 elections will secure a supermajority and the “National Leader’s” rule until 2017 and beyond. As Vladimir Putin is preparing for the presidential elections next spring which is he is sure to win in the absence of any meaningful opposition, there are considerable concerns about the democratic nature of the 2011-2012 election cycle in Russia and in the West.
Implications for Putin’s party maintaining a supermajority in the Duma are huge for the future relations between United States and Russia. An undisputed and stage-managed affirmation of democratic backsliding and undermining of political and human rights in Russia should become a signal for the Obama Administration to reconsider its “reset” policy toward Russia, or absent that, to make Russia an important issue in the U.S. foreign policy debate.
Join us and a distinguished group of experts for a panel discussion that will address the pre-election political climate in Russia, the state of democracy in Russia and implications for U.S. foreign policy.
More About the Speakers
President, Freedom House
Blair A. Ruble
Director, Kennan Institute, and Director, Comparative Urban Studies Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication, The Institute of World Politics
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.
Visiting Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation