Kremlin warns against wrecking Russia with democracy

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Oct. 26, 2009, 7:47 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Redjeb Jordania
MOSCOW, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The Kremlin's chief political strategist warned in an article published on Monday that Russia risked collapsing into chaos if officials tried to tinker with the political system by flirting with liberal reforms. Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov said it was clear Russia was falling behind in many areas of economic development and that the country could not simply continue being a "resource power".

But in answer to calls from opponents for democratic reforms to liberalise the political system built under former President Vladimir Putin, Surkov warned that the resulting instability could rip Russia apart.

"Even now when power is rather consolidated and ordered, many projects are very slow and difficult," Surkov was quoted as saying by the Itogi weekly magazine.

"If we add any sort of political instability to that then our development would simply be paralysed. There would be a lot of demagoguery, a lot of empty talk, a lot of lobbying and ripping Russia to pieces, but no development."

As the Kremlin's point man on domestic politics, Surkov rarely speaks in public.

Surkov, 45, is viewed by diplomats and investors as one of Russia's most powerful officials and is credited with helping Putin to craft the Kremlin's centralised political system after the chaos of the 1990s.

He worked for Putin's entire eight-year presidency in the Kremlin as a deputy chief of staff and continued under Putin's protege, President Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev, who took power in May 2008, has repeatedly stressed the need for Russia to open up and modernise its political system.

But opponents say he has made few changes to the tightly controlled system he inherited from Putin, who continues to serve as prime minister.

After disputed Oct. 11 regional elections, which official results showed Putin's United Russia party won with a landslide, opposition parties have called for electoral reforms and a rerun of the vote.

"We must not confuse liberal, democratic society with chaos and disorder," Surkov said, adding that Russia should avoid the excesses of both Chinese leader Mao Zedong and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

"Though Mao Zedong said that a lot of chaos results in a lot of order, he probably meant that tough or even totalitarian regimes are born from ruins. We do not need that. We do not need a Pinochet," Surkov said.

Surkov graduated in economics and served in the Soviet army before working as a public relations and advertising consultant in the 1990s, including for tycoons such as Mikhail Fridman and the now disgraced oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

"We must understand that authority that is unconsolidated and unbalanced (and) weak democratic institutions are unable to ensure an economic revival," Surkov said.
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Oct. 26, 2009, 8:52 p.m.    

So, is Russia doomed to authoritarian totalitarianism and a constant imperialistic threat to its neighbors? It seems so as long as the Russian people elect or put autocrats like Putin in power.

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Anonymous Oct. 28, 2009, 11:24 a.m.    

Having almost ALWAYS lived under some for of authoritarian rule it will be generations, if ever, before Russians are "smart" enough to realize there is a better way to live...In Ukraine there are still people who remember life before authoritarianism showed up, and there are many more who are realizing the benefits of "normal" society today.

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Anonymous Oct. 27, 2009, 9:35 a.m.    

"We must not confuse liberal, democratic society with chaos and disorder,... to ensure economic revival..." Surkov said, adding that Russia should avoid the excesses of both Chinese leader Mao Zedong and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. In Russia's GEOPOLITICAL case, Mr. Surkov is correct.

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Anonymous Oct. 27, 2009, 10:20 a.m.    

1.Important - "We must not confuse liberal, democratic society with chaos and disorder,"

2. Remember, America is pushing their democracy onto Russia.

3. Democracy - American style is "Devide and conquer" and they start with the youth and the NGO's

4. Read the "CNN effect"

5. Russia is Russia. They whom ever they are, when in Russia, obey the Russian rules.

6.If they do like it, leave.

7.America, the UK and Europe cannot organise their own countries, yet they are telling Russia what to do.

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Anonymous Oct. 27, 2009, 10:22 a.m.    

What an idiot you are, you deserve what you got it Russia. I've included a few quotes from your hero Stalin who would completly agree with you.

Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem.

Joseph Stalin

Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach.

Joseph Stalin

Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.

Joseph Stalin

The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.

Joseph Stalin

The only real power comes out of a long rifle.

Joseph Stalin

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Anonymous Oct. 27, 2009, 2:51 p.m.    

How many journalists are killed in the U.S.? How often do Americans get arrested for protesting on the internet against their government? How many Russians would love to live in the U.S. Matter of fact I spent all day Saturday with a couple that live here and would never want to go back. So whatever Putin says everyone should bow and obey, or else? Not a life I would want to live in. I'd rather live in a free world, which the majority of Russians would also want to live in a free world, not a prison.

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Anonymous Oct. 27, 2009, 5:25 p.m.    

Michael, you're a fU@kin idiot.. or a good Bolshevik .. take your pick..

either way .. a loser..

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Anonymous Oct. 27, 2009, 10:22 a.m.    

Mistake -- 6.If they do not like it, leave.

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