Thursday, November 24, 2005

Authoritarian Russia

Sorry for the recent lack of updates. I have been busy with a lot of work, but now I am starting to see free time again. While I was busy I made a rocketry site for physics, if you want to check it out.

Russia has often been blamed for not following its democratic ideals. Most of this blame has come from the United States and other western powers. Inside the Russian Federation there is marginal public opposition, but marginal is as far as it goes. President Putin has around 80% of his nation’s votes and is leading a government that is very appealing to the average Russian citizen. However, to insure effective development, crack down on corruption and provide a peaceful atmosphere, Putin has had to forfeit the rights of some. His government has been known for targeting anti-governmental broadcasting agencies and non-cooperating business men. This sort of activity has been looked down upon by the west, but has been found acceptable by the majority of Russian people.
The legislation voted on by the lower house of Russian Parliament was concerning foreign and domestic NGOs. NGOs or nongovernmental organizations are organizations that promote governmental activity without being affiliated with any one given government (example: Green Pace, Amnesty International). The bill received preliminary approval with a vote of 370 to 18 and needs to be voted on two more times before being passed onto the upper parliament and Putin. Today, to the surprise of some, Putin voiced approval for the bill, although he mentioned the need for some amendments. The bill is expected to be fast tracked into law and the secondary vote is scheduled for December 9th.

NGOs are a threat?
Money laundering is the main worldwide threat from NGOs. NGOs are used as a way to launder money for terrorism and related activates. Sadly, Russia is plagued by terrorist activities, mostly in the Chechnya and Georgian border regions. To combat the threat from terrorism Russia is planning to introduce this legislation to take decisive action against money laundering. Russia is facing the problem in a more blatant way then the Patriot Act and Anti-terrorism Act dealt with it in United States and Canada. Of course, in comparison the new legislation from Russia is much less restrictive then those two Acts, but the Russian legislation (unlike the Acts) is not an all-in-one anti-terrorism legislation.
The secondary threat is local and is the threat of unwanted governmental change. In 2004 the United States donated $45 million to funding NGOs in Russia that promoted democracy. These are the sort of activities that caused the ‘revolution’ in Ukraine and all the unrest associated with it. Russia wants to protect herself from needless change and espionage.

The proposed bill will ban all foreign NGOs in Russia. It will also closely monitor domestic NGOs. One of the things that will be disallowed for domestic NGOs, will be out-of-country funding.

When all is said and done, I agree with this legislation. Russia is in shatters and the only way we can get back up is with a strong leader. Putin is that strong leader and if this legislation helps him stay in power and make Russia better, then so be it. Russia can not afford to have Putin replaced by some ‘democratic’ numbskull that will drag our country into non-existance.

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