Monday, November 29, 2004

Retro Russia: The Cold War may be over, but Russia's recent actions are still chilling. President Vladimir Putin has retracted many democratic measures in the country by tightening his control of the Duma, replacing popularly elected governors with ones appointed by the Kremlin, and restricting the media. Now it appears Putin's government might have had a hand in rigging the elections in the Ukraine.

The U.S., along with the European Union, has condemned the Ukranian vote results, and it looks like popular activism and political pressure may result in a new election. However, it's still a shaky situation, and it may get worse before it gets better.

That's why we need President Bush to take a strong stance against Putin's strong-arm tactics, both within Russia's government and its meddling with Ukraine's.

Unfortunately, I don't foresee Bush making much of a public stink about what's going on with our old Cold War adversary. Although Russia opposed the U.S. liberation of Iraq, Putin has been a strong supporter of our aggressive fight against terrorism. Putin even endorsed Bush against Kerry in the last election, a completely inappropriate move for a foreign leader.

It appears that Putin is supporting our aggressive fight against the terrorists to justify his own war against the Chechens, especially after those terrorists committed the atrocious attack on hundreds of school children. But he has also used the attacks as an excuse to curtail democratic reforms in the country.

During the Cold War, we would often support hostile, autocratic, oppressive governments when it helped us oppose the Soviet Union. Those decisions in part led to the problems we have now with Islamic terrorism. And now we are now in danger of making the exact same mistake, only in reverse.


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