Moscow rally may herald an active time of Russian politics

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/27 23:58:39

Demonstrations were staged on Sunday in Moscow and several other Russian cities in protest against President Vladimir Putin and demanding that Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev step down. Police said around 7,000-8,000 protesters participated in Moscow's rally. It is reported that at least 500 people were arrested.

According to Western media, the protesters shouted anti-Putin slogans, including "Putin resign!" and "Russia without Putin." Anti-corruption was highlighted in the protest. Medvedev was accused of having lavish mansions, yachts and vineyards. Medvedev's spokesperson denied these accusations and dubbed them as "propagandistic attacks." 

The demonstration in Moscow is the largest one since 2012. As Russia will hold presidential elections next year, this demonstration perhaps marks the beginning of an active period of domestic politics in Russia. 

Russia adopts a Western-style multi-party system, while it has an authoritarian regime. Western countries don't recognize Russia as a "democratic state," accusing it of being "autocratic." This constitutes a long-term political pressure on Russia. Dealing with the challenges posed by domestic opposition and preventing the opposition allying with the Western forces has become a major issue for Moscow.

The geographic, national and cultural factors of Russia call for authoritarian rule, however, it adopts a multi-party election system. It is not an easy job to combine the two. Russia has so far managed the problem well. Thanks to Putin's high level of popular support, the effect of multi-party elections have been constrained without having permeated into other parts of the country's political life. However, the West and the opposition forces are pushing to expand the system, making it the biggest uncertainty of Russian politics.

Russia went through a painful time of national disorientation after the disintegration of the USSR, and the collective memory is still alive today. Russian society still supports Putin despite the economic hardship of recent years, partly because of that experience and memory.

Many Russians believe that the vast country composed of places with different cultural traditions cannot chart the same political path as the West. They actually tried after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but failed.

However, certain forces in Russia advocate the complete Westernization in politics. They are backed by the West.

It's hard for non-Western countries to explore a political path different from that of the West. Attempts to explore new political paths are suppressed by the West. Shortly after Russia's Sunday demonstrations, Washington strongly condemned the detention of protesters.

How Russia will carry on its unique national path will provide an important reference for China. Russia is deeply influenced by Western culture and it is geographically closer to the West than China. Some Western political elements are legally accepted in the country. But under such circumstances, Russian society still supports and accepts Russia running a political model different from the Western one. This is worth pondering.

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