The ugly face of Russia

In a recent statement, the last secretary general of the communist party of the Soviet Union, Michael Gorbachev, described the Russian rulers of being ‘arrogant’. I am not a communist, nor do I have any special place in my heart for Gorbachev, or for what he represents, but I completely agree with him on this matter.

The Russian leadership, in one way or another, under the ruling of Vladimir Putin, is more closer to an authoritarian state that to a democracy. There is this tendency in the spirit of Russian people to view their leaders in a holy way. Since the times of Tsars, to the glorification of Lenin, and until the very recent nationwide fascination with the persona of Vladimir Putin, the Russian people are capable of being blind to the shortcomings of their rulers, once they fall in love with them.

Of course the state unchallenged control over media in Russia is making this fascination easy to maintain and foster. Though many intellectual and pro democracy activists in Russia are opposing the unchallenged powers of the president, the overwhelming majority of Russians seem to be satisfied with the performance of their government, especially when it comes to managing the economy.

All of this could’ve been acceptable, if Russia was a country that is minding it’s own business, but the unfortunate truth is that this elite in Russia, that is dragging this great nation by its nose, is extremely influential in the world, and it’s influence for the most part has been negative.

Though it would be difficult to claim that the western governments are more ‘moral’ than the regime in Moscow, it is still much easier to come to terms with western countries than with Russia.

The United States and Western Europe are at least publicly declaring their support for democracy and human rights, even though history shows that they can turn a blind eye to dictators who work in their favor. Russia is not like this at all. Russian regime has never claimed, nor is interested in, spreading democracy, or the values of human rights and freedom. In fact, my personal belief is that the Russian leadership itself does not believe in any of these ‘western excuses to intervene in foreign countries’ as they would put it. They don’t even follow these value at home to begin with.

Because of this lack of belief in human rights values, Russia has never hesitated to back any dictators publicly, regardless to how cruel he is to his people. Just go through all of the ‘Stan’ states on the south of Russia and you will understand what I mean. The pro-Russian dictators in many of the ex-Soviet republics have filthy human rights records, some of which includes putting their opposition figures in acids.

Of course Russia doesn’t have a problem with that, as long as this dictator is their ‘son of a bitch’. The record of course goes on; Belarus, Ukraine, Chechnya, Georgia, and the support for Yugoslavia are all examples of Russia’s inability to understand the way the world functions in the 21st century, while continuing to rule with the doctrine of the Soviet Union and KGB assassinations.

The stance of Russia on the revolutions in the Arab world, therefore, should not be surprising to us. Throughout the Egyptian revolution, the Russian state-controlled media was depicting the uprising as a ‘western plot’ to overthrow the regime of Mubarak. Furthermore, the Russian media was propagating very shameful Islamophobic ideas about the revolution, and warning that this is the beginning of a tide of Islamic extremism in the world.

Fortunately, back then Russia couldn’t do anything to stop the revolution of the Egyptian people. Had they had the ability to do so, they would’ve done it without hesitation. And if anyone believes otherwise, I suggest they take a moment to assess the Russian stance on Libyan revolution. Russia is opposing the suggestions to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. In general, they, against the will of almost the whole world, oppose any military intervention in Libya to prevent the mad dictator there from killing more innocent Libyan civilians. Why? It’s easy; because Libya has been a very important importer of the Russian weapons, and removing the regime by the NATO will make the next government of Libya a protégée of the west, and make the people of Libya more in favor of the west, therefore, their future weapon purchases will come from the west, not from Russia.

Ironically, because the Russian leaders were successful in maintaining their control over their nation through state controlled media, the Russian regime seems to believe that launching an Arabic speaking TV channel can help ‘sweet talk’ the Arabs, and make them in favor of Russia, despite it’s shameful stance in support of dictators against the basic human rights of the Arab people.

Russia Today, unfortunately, remains Russia of yesterday, and this needs to be changed.

To win the hearts of Arabs you need much more than words. Western governments have realized that, and it’s about time that Russia realizes that too, and start working according to that not only in relation to the Arab world, but also to other countries, and inside Russia itself. Otherwise, they might face a serious risk of not only losing their dictator-allies one after the other, but also losing their grip on their own nation as well.

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