JRL NEWSWATCH: “Is Putinism the Russian Norm or an Aberration?” – Current History/ Michael McFaul

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

“Policies chosen by Putin, not innate forces of history, culture, or tradition, pushed Russia in a more autocratic direction  . . .”

“… Putin has ruled Russia for so long that it’s hard to imagine Russia without him. He has been Russia’s central decision maker as president or prime minister for nearly two decades, with six more years left in his current presidential term and the possibility of amending the constitution to remain in power even longer. He is likely to go down in history as one of Russia’s longest-serving leaders – though he still has many years to go to match Ivan the Terrible, who was tsar for more than five decades. Since 2005, the US-based rights-monitoring group Freedom House has rated Russia as “not free.” Putin has earned these negative scores by concentrating executive power, limiting indepen- dent media, manipulating elections, restricting the autonomy of civil society and political parties, us- ing the courts for political purposes, and threaten- ing the business sector-at times with imprison- ment-to deter it from supporting independent political actors in opposition to his regime. In parallel to this growing autocracy at home, Putin’s foreign policy has become more aggres sive, more disrespectful of international laws and norms, and more confrontational with the West. …”

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