Putin Rings Down the Curtain on Democracy in Russia

Georgy Bovt, writing in the Moscow Times, explains how the Kremlin has utterly obliterated the last vestiges of democracy in Russia and rendered the country a nation of helpless, bleating sheep, just as in Soviet times. Welcome back to the USSR!

In the wake of protests in December and February, the authorities made concessions to the opposition by announcing a host of political reforms before the March presidential election. The law to ease the registration of new political parties, intended to liberalize the political process, was passed quickly. But every other amendment proposed by the opposition was ignored, including the two most important: the ability for parties to form coalitions prior to elections and the demand to lower the barrier for parties to gain seats in the State Duma. At present, that barrier stands at 5 percent, and voters who support the smaller parties risk not only having no representation in parliament, but also seeing their votes effectively awarded to the winning party. The result will be a major “Balkanization” process in which dozens of new parties are formed but are rendered useless.

Then there is the bill to return direct gubernatorial elections.

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Allesandra Stanley, Braying Jackass of Lies and Ignorance

Allesandra Stanley, Braying Jackass

Reporter Allesandra Stanley of the New York Times recently took a little trip to Moscow in order to report on what they are showing on Kremlin-controlled broadcast TV.

She states:

The government can’t effectively censor the Internet, and it doesn’t bother with opposition newspapers and some radio stations — a little criticism has long been tolerated to give Russia’s disaffected intelligentsia a place to blow off steam. It’s a little like a rich father who gives his daughter’s snooty, hipster boyfriend a job: He may hate the kid, but it’s one way to get some peace and quiet at home.

Oops! Guess she didn’t care to read the Moscow Times, which reported on the same day:  “Gazprom-Media, the owner of liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy, has demanded the early resignation of the radio station’s board of directors, Ekho Moskvy editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said Tuesday.”

Next Stanley writes:

Now, brisk updates on voter fraud, anti-Putin rallies and opposition candidates share a news hour with long, choreographed tableaus that showcase Mr. Putin as prime minister, hard at work inspecting factories, raising pensions, scolding lazy bureaucrats, and doing what it takes to preserve stability and spread prosperity. He has taken to publishing long mission statements for Russia’s future; each one is framed on the news like a tablet from Moses.

Oops again! Looks like she failed to read her own newspaper, which reported just days before:

European election observers say that presidential hopefuls running against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin face “biased” reports by Kremlin-controlled media and constant government pressure. Tiny Kox, who heads the Council of Europe mission to Russia, said Saturday that all four candidates complain that Putin’s government is using its “administrative resources” to influence voters, while Russian television extensively covers Putin’s activities.

New York Times coverage of Russia is hopeless mess. This reporter is,very obviously, totally unqualified to write about Russia (one wonders if she even speaks the language, and if she does why she hardly ever does any other reporting about Russia).

Her reputation for incompetence precedes her. Gawker says that Stanley is known for “trademark glaring inaccuracy.” That’s the mother of all understatements. The fact that, with presidential elections only weeks away, the nation’s so-called “paper of record” would send a goon this idiotic and incompetent to report on the crucial issue of state-controlled media in Russia tells you all you need to know about whether you can think of the Gray Lady as a significant resource on Russia.