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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > June 2016 > My hopes for Russia

My hopes for Russia

The claim that “democracy is bad for Russia” is balderdash

Of late, the word “democracy” has figured rarely in the speeches of Russian politicians. Disillusionment with democracy is also rife among Russian citizens, and not only them. A rolling back of democracy after its tumultuous inroads in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been a global phenomenon. There are serious reasons for that, of which the most important has been that the democratic leaders were not always competent to deal with the situation. I am convinced, however, that there is no alternative to democracy.

“Russia must overcome excessive dependence on its leaders,” says Mikhail Gorbachev: President Vladimir Putin meets his cabinet in March
© JOHN FARR/SCHNEIDER-PRESS/SIPA/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK, ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Different countries come to democracy by different routes and practise its principles in different ways. Russia will have to build a democracy that takes account of and builds on its cultural characteristics, traditions, mentality and national character. There are, however, certain features without which a system cannot be democratic. Some of these are of particular importance for Russia because we cannot yet claim they are found in our present way of life. These are: regular, honest elections ensuring a periodical turnover of those in power; stable constitutional order and a balance of powers between the three branches of government; competition between political parties; respect for basic human rights and freedoms; a just and impartial legal system and a developed civil society.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s June issue: Bronwen Maddox lays out the case for Britain to stay in Europe—the position taken by the magazine. Mikhail Gorbachev explains his hopes for Russia, suggesting that the claim democracy is bad for Russia is “balderdash.” Rachel Sylvester looks at the Conservative Party and explores what might happen to the Tories after the EU referendum. Also in this issue: Nicholas Shaxson and Alex Cobham unpick the world of hidden money and what Britain can do about tax havens. Neil Kinnock argues that Labour isn’t making progress under Jeremy Corbyn and Jason Burke examines Islamic State and the networks that underpin their attacks. Plus Stephen Bayley asks was BritArt any good?
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