Рефераты. Democracy in Russia

Democracy in Russia

Svetlana Levanova, gr. 512

Democracy as I See It Exercised in Russia


Life has changed entirely in Russia since the beginning of the

nineties, when democracy as the state’s policy was introduced. Not only

lifestyles, fashions and technologies were changed but also there was a

turnover in people’s mentality.

We, the generation, which was born in the 70ies – early 80ies,

witnessed a great fracture in the whole system of life. We experienced the

break in our minds, viewpoints and attitudes, but we are the generation to

build up new Russia from its cornerstone.

Russia today is a materialistic society. Sociologists say that a

materialistic society is one in which material possessions are important.

People are concerned about financial well-being and security or even

physical survival. Various hardships, first of all economic, coerced

Russians into fighting for survival, caring only about most essential

things for life. Such democratic values as, say, inalienable rights are not

relevant for discussion among those who do not have money to buy some

bread. If someone takes advantage of the right of speech and enjoys it to

the full, if this person states his or her disagreement with the boss’s

point of view on some subject, he or she will be fired immediately and join

the army of the unemployed. The unemployed in Russia differ from those in

the USA who can live off welfare and sometimes be quite satisfied with

their actual status. In Russia unemployment is synonymous with poverty and


As soon as the new state policy was introduced it began to cause a

shift in values. Not much changed in universal values such as family, work

or leisure, whereas the newly borrowed democratic ideas were somewhat

perverted. Due to the cultural factor, peculiarities of Russia’s historical

development and current economic situation people adopted democratic

principles and customized every item on the list to their needs and

cultural level.

One can sometimes hear an opinion that we live in a democracy so we

are free to do whatever we want, meaning that democracy entitles people to

unlimited liberties. This erroneous proposition finds its root in political

ignorance. Sovereigns have always governed the Russian people; first they

were czars then communist tyrants. Most of them were charismatic

personalities able to keep the whole country under their iron hand.

Totalitarian regime implied regimentation of every aspect of life.

Ideology, economy and even people’s everyday routine were supervised.

Russians were deprived of the opportunity to judge, make personal decisions

and express their grievances. It resulted in political passiveness and lack

of any interest in political procedures.

In early nineties census data displays a great leap of interest and

involvement among Russians. It was normal that people spent leisure time

watching TV programs about politicians or live broadcasts from rallies and

conventions. But then without tangible benefits from the new government

their enthusiasm soon ceased. Irrespective of the time spent at the TV sets

Russians didn’t grasp the principles of democracy. Having been brought up

and educated in a totalitarian society, which rejected the culture of

democracy, they only acquired the concept of freedom. Unfortunately they

were unaware of what accompanies freedom - competence and responsibility.

We may ask why Russians are discouraged from participating in

political procedures and asserting their rights as citizens of a democracy.

All plausible answers are interconnected and knitted into a seemingly

perpetual cycle.

One of the most essential concepts of democracy is the idea of rights

and duties. For instance, no state, no law should impinge upon the right of

speech and the right to assemble. But in fact in Russia there are no

special mechanisms that would help its citizens form initiative groups and

alliances in order to be heard by the government. That’s where passiveness

and incompetence begins.

A diversity of all possible political parties should represent the

needs of the population, both majorities and minorities. As we plunge into

Russian reality we can find out that all the variety is a mere illusion.

Political arena in Russia reminds of a theater with a single actor who

appears on the stage under different names.

It is necessary to regulate normal functioning of democratic

institutions, but the question is what to begin with. Probably it should be

democratic culture or loyal but competitive opposition or mechanisms that

would help people stand upon their rights.

Russia is not yet ready for democracy. A country should have certain

cultural, political and economic background as prerequisites for democracy.

Culturally Russians are influenced by the doctrine of Orthodox Church and

long-term pressure of authoritarian regime. Tradition is inculcated in the

Russian mind, which makes the nation almost unsusceptible to changes.

Political and civic consciousness is not well developed. So this country

should be ruled in a different way. It doesn’t mean that Russia is behind

the time or democracy is too far ahead to be exercised in such a country.

This nation unlike any other in the world is so very special,

contradictory, so contrary to logic that we have to find very special means

to manage it.

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