WILL PUTIN'S INITIATIVES SAVE RUSSIA?

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MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - The radical political reform proposed by President Vladimir Putin, unlike many other latest innovations, did not leave anyone indifferent in circles in this or that way connected with politics both in Russia and beyond its borders. This is the statement well-known Russian political scientist Vitaly Tretyakov, who was one of the founding fathers of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper, starts his extensive article "Putin's Choice as Russia's Choice" on September 16 in government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta with.

By the scale of political changes this reform - if it is realized - will bring to society and Russia's state structure, it is comparable to liquidation of the people's deputies' congress and introduction of the Constitution in 1993, carried out by Boris Yeltsin. Up till now, these two events were the main fundamental landmarks in Russia's post-Soviet history, writes the political scientist.

[Both the critics and advocates of this reform] are right when they say that after realization of President Putin's proposals, the country's political life will change dramatically. It remains unclear however, whether it will change for the better or worse.

Vitaly Tretyakov offers an answer to this question from the point of view of Russia's real modern political history and real national interests.

He gives a concise assessment of the political reform proposed by Vladimir Putin.

1. This is evidently a step back from getting close to the ideal model of democracy.

2. This is a forced step, which is evidently connected with a fear to lose something more than democracy in Russia, that is, Russia itself.

3. The efficiency of this step is not predetermined or guaranteed.

4. The inefficiency of a purely democratic scenario of resolution of the problems and challenges facing Russia, is, alas, proved in theory and in practice.

Then the author develops each thesis in more detail.

This is a convincing argument which can be often heard recently: the U.S. also lived through a monstrous terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, but it did not cancel gubernatorial elections, and was able to prevent a repetition of such and minor terrorist attacks.

This argument, in Mr. Tretyakov's opinion, does not stand serious criticism, as "the U.S. and Russian histories, as well as their political and democratic histories are absolutely incomparable."

Mr. Tretyakov believes that one of the most important aspects of incorrectness of attempts to compare the U.S. after Sept. 11, 2001 and Russia after Sept. 4 (end of the tragedy in Beslan) is the international terrorism which was able to deal a strike on the U.S. from outside, and as regards Russia, it is already inside it, in the North Caucasus, where it has taken a bridgehead.

Reforms proposed by Vladimir Putin, in the opinion of the article author, are rather Russia's transition from the western development scenario to the Chinese one: less democracy, more market, and the main thing is to prevent the country from being ruined and eliminated.

President Putin, continues the author, is absolutely right saying that today someone declared a total war on Russia [the Beslan monstrous terrorist act is not the only confirmation of this]. The deepest crisis of national security imposed on the deepest political crisis has faced Mr. Putin, no matter whether he is a weak or strong president, with the necessity to take emergency measures on liquidation of both things.

Reproaches in regard to the reforms proposed by Mr. Putin are absolutely grounded, even if Kremlin does not want to accept them. The political quintessence of these reforms is cancellation of appointment by election of heads of Federation constituent members and replacement of the mixed election system with the proportional one (by party lists).

True, this reform (to be more exact, one of its points - cancellation of gubernatorial elections, for transition from mixed to purely proportional system of elections cannot be called a step back from democracy) results in:

- going beyond the constitutional field in spirit;

- transformation of the country from federation to unitary state;

- restriction of the sphere of validity of democratic election procedures and transition from direct democracy (at the regional level) to plebiscite, that is, the least democratic form of democratic structure.

In this sense, this reform is a step back in the democratic development.

But I, writes Vitaly Tretyakov, am solidary with Mr. Putin in that we first of all have to preserve the country and the nation, and only then preserve the democracy in Russia. In this way he completes the first part of the article, promising to continue it in Rossiiskaya Gazeta on September 17.

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