In the United States alone, ongoing partisan battles have raised questions about the ability of the often self-proclaimed “world’s greatest democracy” to meet its most basic obligations. Have these failures, real and perceived, damaged the ability of democracies around the world to promote democratic governance as the solution to a wide range of challenges and problems?
Tales of corruption in Russia are nothing new. But in her new book, “Putin’s Kleptocracy,” Karen Dawisha connects the dots between government and private sector corruption and Vladimir Putin’s rapid rise to power, leading to the question, who owns Russia? That’s the focus of this edition of REWIND.
Kate Brown, 2007 Kennan Institute Research Scholar, was recently awarded the 2014 Albert J. Beveridge Award for her book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, which provides an account of the first two cities to produce plutonium, Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia, and how these idealistic communities helped conceal the fallout from the nuclear programs.
"It [Russia] is facing a lower price for oil. It is confronting a rising Ruble. In a diverse economy, you could take advantage of such circumstances, but Russia doesn't have a diverse economy and it won't be able to," says Will Pomeranz.
Support for the annexation of Crimea is virtually universal with little understanding or appreciation that in so doing, Russia has violated international commitments and undone post- Cold War security structures in Europe. There is, however, no support for open warfare with Ukraine and young people are uneasy the current sanctions will jeopardize future career and job prospects.
The Ukraine crisis has come full circle. While images of revolution, war, annexation, and invasion remain fresh, it is important to remember that this upheaval actually began as a trade dispute. The EU and Ukraine wanted to increase trade via the association agreement, and Russia loudly objected, first with words and soon thereafter with guns. A shaky cease-fire is now in place, but any lasting solution to this crisis begins where it started, namely with trade.
After a decade in prison you look at time differently, says Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The former Russian oligarch, whom President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly pardoned in December, is visiting Washington this week, sharing his thoughts with people who knew him back in Moscow -- before prison, before his Yukos Oil Co. was dismantled, before he lost his estimated fortune of $15 billion.
"To understand voting in Russia, it helps to have a literary turn of mind, an appreciation of the Kafkaesque lengths to which the authorities will go to constrain the opposition," writes Jill Dougherty.
"Russians have come to depend on their belief in Putin as much as he depends on their support. Instead of serving as a source of stability, as it did in the past, this mutual dependence is driving Russia toward political and economic isolation – with serious consequences for ordinary Russians’ livelihoods," writes Maxim Trudolyubov.
"Obama needs to lay out in precise terms the conditions that could lead Washington to consider a change in its Russian sanctions policy. Otherwise, the EU may use Obama’s U.N. speech as an opportunity to reconsider its current sanctions — to the clear detriment of U.S. business and national security interests," writes Will Pomeranz.
Experts & Staff
- Matthew Rojansky // Director, Kennan Institute
- William E. Pomeranz // Deputy Director, Kennan Institute
- F. Joseph Dresen // Program Associate
- Mary Elizabeth Malinkin // Program Associate
- Izabella Tabarovsky // Manager for Regional Engagement
- Mattison Brady // Program Assistant
- Blair A. Ruble // Vice President for Programs; Director, Urban Sustainability Laboratory; and Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute