Monday, December 22, 2008

Is Medvedev a true reformer?

Russia's leaders have taken heat in the Western press of late. A worrying Soviet-era authoritarianism creep is said to be underway. The Kremlin is admonished for reneging on its post-Cold War commitments to change course and integrate into the league of 'responsible nations.'

As it stands, it is accused of practicing 'perestroika' (economic restructuring) at the expense of 'glasnost' (political openness).

While there has been an undeniable centralization of power accompanying former president and current prime minister Vladimir Putin's rise to power, people would be wise to think twice before dismissing Dimitri Medvedev's democratic tendencies.

The new Russian president seems to understand the importance of strengthening democracy and political freedom in his country. In his state of the union address, Medvedev uttered words that are hard to ignore. He acknowledged and openly criticized the excessive degree of state interference in the media. He also admitted that the only way for government to become less obstrusive in social life is to develop the technological infrastructure and openness to make government interference much more difficult. You can muzzle a few large newspapers, but you cannot muzzle thousands of small ones in the form of blogs and informal discussion groups such as this one.

This article does a wonderful job highlighting these points.

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