Are you apprehensive or glad of Vladmir Putin becoming president of Russia again?
Somewhat apprehensive. Yet, I predicted it before Putin was ever recognized in the Russian political landscape. No, I did not predict that Putin himself would become president, but that a authoritarian-type ruler would return to the helm of the Russian government. In 1988-89 I took two Russian history courses and one Russian politics course. Of course, that was the time of Gorbachev, perestroika, and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Yet, in the courses, I noticed that Russia ran about 200 years behind the rest of Europe in terms of evolution towards a democratic state and society. Mostly the Russians were resistant to the political formulas of their Western European counterparts. The pendulum of democracy began swinging in Western Europe in the 11th century with the conquest if England by William of Normandy. The Magna Carta was signed in the 13th century, and not until the American and French Revolutions in the 18th century were individual human rights and freedoms truly granted. Russia had a similar evolution beginning in the Novgorod Republic (from the 12th to 15th centuries) citizens enjoyed certain individual freedoms. More recently at the beginning of the 20th century and the Bolshevic revolution, Lenin allowed farmers to be free to participate in a free market system. Stalin crushed and collectivized the farms, but the free farmers children (including Nikita Kruschev and Mikhail Gorbachev) did not forget. So the pendulum swung from some freedoms (Lenin) to absolute tyranny (Stalin) to more freedoms (Khruschev) to totalinarianism (Brezhnev) to more interest in freedom (Yuri Andropov) to openness (Gorbachev) and even more democratic reforms (Yeltsin).
But the Russian people were not entirely ready to rule themselves. Thus, the pendulum has swung back to a more authoritarian regime under Putin. Whether this is ultimately good or bad is yet to be seen.
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