Wednesday 10 December 2003

Now they're after Putin

The real terrorists in action again!

The hypocrites of the "democratic" West set their sights on Russia

by Justin Raimondo

The decisive victory of Russian President Vladimir Putin's "United Russia" slate of candidates for the Duma is the occasion for a new round of Putin-bashing, with "human rights officials" condemning the election results as "a retreat from Russia's democratic reforms."

Just what is a "human rights official," anyway? The way the Associated Press puts it, one might almost suppose that we're talking about elected officials here, or else guardian angels appointed by God to watch over the human race in His stead. In either case, these unofficial officials deserve to be recalled forthwith, just on the basis of their phony complaints about the Russian electoral process:

"International observers delivered a blistering assessment of the vote, calling it free but not fair. Taxpayer money and state television was used to benefit a few parties, monitors said in their criticism."

When the Republicans run television ads featuring Bush's Top Gun landing on that aircraft carrier, I wonder if these same monitors will lodge complaints about inappropriate use of taxpayers' money. The state-supported media of the OSCE countries – in whose name the rebuke to Putin was issued – all have an indisputable political bias, and the problem is even worse in Eastern Europe.

Bruce George, head of the OSCE's "parliamentary assembly," had the nerve to pontificate that the election "failed to meet ... international standards." The White House endorsed this hypocritical hyperbole, noting "concerns about the fairness of the election campaign. We share those concerns." George openly worried that, "because of the use of administrative resources and the biased media, legitimate democratic opposition parties would not get the 5 percent of the vote they need to enter parliament."

If every government that used "administrative resources" to gain electoral advantage were to be expelled from the ranks of democratic nations, who would be left? As for "biased media" – is this something that the Western media, which "embedded" itself in the U.S. government's war propaganda machine, have the right to lecture the Russians about?

The real complaint of Putin's Western critics is that the Russian parties favored by Washington and its Euro-weenie satellites – Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces – failed to get the 5 percent required to garner seats in the Duma. The election was "free but not fair" – because they didn't like the results.

Such a self-serving application of "international standards" is hardly surprising, however, coming from the same people who, when they hold an election that doesn't yield the right results, simply hold another one. And for this White House – which holds power due solely to the vagaries of a Supreme Court decision – to complain about Russia's lack of "democracy" has the administration's credibility hanging by a chad.

Since a key indicator of democratic government is ballot access, and diversity of parties, let's compare the Russian method of party registration with the American system. In Russia, as of the beginning of this year, 29 parties had qualified for ballot status in national elections by verifying at least 10,000 members in at least 45 regions. In the U.S., the rules for ballot status differ from state to state – even, in some cases, from county to county – and the burden of a new party getting on the ballot in all 50 states is so onerous that very few have managed it. When it comes to this basic question of who gets on the ballot, the Russians have the Americans beat hands down.

The charges against Putin and the new, post-Soviet Russia are, in short, malarkey – so what's the real deal behind this concert of "concern" by Western governments and their media amen corner?

The philosopher-kings of the movement for global "democracy" have been gunning for Vlad the Bad ever since he broke up the media monopoly of the Russian oligarchs. But they really went ballistic went he began to arrest some of these oligarchs for stealing, lying, and trying to buy off the Duma from looking too closely into the highly dubious means by which they acquired their great wealth.

Far from being capitalist heroes out of an Ayn Rand novel, the objects of Putin's wrath attained their status as the industrial-financial titans of the post-Soviet era by means of government connections.

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