Does anything ever change in Russia? Very seldom. Or, to be exact, if anything else changes, those who rule it don’t.
Putin is running for President again. The Russian Constitution says that one person can not be President for more than two terms consecutively. Putin had his two terms between 2000 and 2008 – at the time the constitutional term for the highest office in the nation was 4 years. Then he withdrew, and his best friend and drinking buddy, Medvedev, ran for President supported by Putin’s party, United Russia, and won. Putin became the Prime Minister, but in practice remained the decision maker. Now that Medvedev’s turn is almost over, Putin will run again. Meanwhile, the Constitution was amended to increase the President’s term from four to six years. So if Putin runs and wins, he will have the opportunity to be a President for another 12 years – and this will place him among the longest ruling heads of state of Russia, with 24 years in power.
And Putin has all the means to win again. His party, United Russia, is the most popular party in Russia. Even if it wasn’t for its popularity, the party is almost entirely staffed by government employees and executives; and in the Russian heavily regulated economy, government employees and executives can easily dictate how the rest of the people live, work, and vote. It has no specific ideology, except a very broad claim to “anti-radicalism,” which, of course, can mean anything, depending of the context. In 2006 Vladislav Surkov – a politician and businessman who made a career slavishly serving Putin and writing sycophantic ideology in his support not very different from anything written in the time of Stalin’s cult – came up with a name for the official ideology of the party: Sovereign Democracy. The name sounded ridiculous even to some party leaders, and even Medvedev rejected it, saying that it has no discernible meaning. It made the ordinary Russians quip that “the difference between democracy and sovereign democracy is the same as between a chair and an electric chair.”
Putin – a former KGB agent in the occupied East Germany – says that he has left his Communist past behind. May be he has – if he means the Marxist ideology. But he certainly hasn’t left his KGB past. All his actions in the last 12 years reveal him as a skillful manipulator who knows how to use the power mechanisms to stay in power. Even when the nation has a formally democratic Constitution, and there is no officially totalitarian ideology that bans political expression and political parties, Putin is still able to remain in power as a President-for-life, no matter what.
In short, Communism may be dead in Russia. KGB is not.
What is more important, there is no resistance. Even though many Russians understand that Putin’s methods return Russia to its Communist past, the majority of the population is apathetic. A recent survey showed that Russians just can’t see any alternative to an authoritarian rule by a small clique in Kremlin. Decentralized self-rule has never even appeared to them as a possible solution.
This is the fate of a nation that never had a Christian worldview applied to government and society. When a people reject self-rule and liberty under God, what they get is man’s tyranny. Western Europe, with its abandonment of Christianity, is increasingly experiencing the same; for the last 40 years the Continent has been ruled by a small class of professional politicians who have been transferring the reins of power from fathers to sons. And no KGB is needed to keep it that way since there is no ideology for resistance. In the US, some states have been under the same KGB-style controlled politics – New York and Illinois being the leading examples. The end of such loss of Christian worldview is obvious: Russia. When liberty is not protected under God, it is not protected at all, for there is no protection of liberty where people do not place their trust in God for both self-government and righteous rebellion against tyrants.
It is no mere coincidence that the Declaration of Independence declared that rights are given by the Creator. If we forget that, we will turn into another Russia.