An interview recently published in the Polish online journal, Kultura Liberalna, posted here, provides an interesting insider’s view of how the political situation there is understood from the point of view of Putin’s opposition. Lukasz Pawlowski, a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw and a contributing editor to Kultura Liberalna, interviews Lilia Shevtsova, a political scientist and expert on Russian politics. She served as director of the Center for Political Studies in Moscow and as deputy director of the Moscow Institute of International Economic and Political Studies. Currently she is a senior associate at the Moscow office of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is the author of numerous publications including her latest book Change or Decay: Russia’s Dilemma and the West’s Response (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2011).
This interview raises a number of significant issues, concerning the problems of democratization and the problems of Russia. Most fundamental is that the democratization of Russia requires Russian action. Outsiders, “the West,” and specifically the United States, cannot do much about this. This is a theme we have been observing in many parts of the world. Consider, for example, how Elzbieta Matynia reflects on the issue as it applies to Egypt, Poland and South Africa.
And then the interview gets into the particulars: critically appraising the strengths and weaknesses of the democratic opposition Russia, reflecting on the Medvedev – Putin relationship, and how each of these figures challenge the democratic project, judging the short and long term prospects of democratic movement in Russia, and the necessity of change from the bottom up. One of Shevtsova’s more provocative claims is that Russia is better off with Putin than Medvedev as President.
To read the interview of Lilia Shevtsova “Do Not Democratize Russia: We Will Do It Ourselves,” click here.