Boris N. Yeltsin has resigned the supreme post in Russia, replaced by Vladimir V. Putin.
Not surprisingly, '[o]ne of Mr. Putin's first presidential ukazes was to grant Mr. Yeltsin immunity from any future prosecution---a critical action, given the charges of high corruption swirling around the Kremlin.'(1) Now it should be obvious to all but the most na´ve that the reason for Yeltsin's hiring and firing of no less than 17 different Prime Ministers has been nothing less than a frantic search for the morally and politically bankrupt heir-to-the-throne who would promise a full pardon to Yeltsin. Whatever Yeltsin and Company has done---regarding the secret auctioning off of Russia's state industries to the lowest bidders (often themselves)---will now never be fully known.
Of Putin himself, what is known? He is a former KGB intelligence officer nicknamed 'Stasi' after his years of service in East Germany.(2) Putin, who was quoted on a government internet site last December as saying the Russian people are 'not ready to... become self-reliant individuals,' has also publicly declared 'that to improve the economy Russia needed to beef up its defense industries.'(3) The pro-Putin faction, the Unity Party, which recently won 25% of the seats in the Duma, presented no platform to voters other than a vigorous commitment to a victorious conclusion to the Chechen war.(4)
Although the West has celebrated Yeltsin's legal surrender of power---did not Khrushchev also leave his post legally?---the fact remains that Yeltsin (unlike Khrushchev) got to stuff his pockets at the people's expense before he left office.
Furthermore, Yeltsin's conspicuous corruption coupled with Putin's disgraceful issuance of full immunity has demonstrated to average Russians EXACTLY what 'American-style democracy' is.
As the New York Times reported:
The view that Russian politicians are unscrupulous and corrupt is widespread... [T]he decree was taken as an unavoidable fact of life... Besides, one [Russian interviewed] noted, the first act of of Gerald Ford was to pardon Richard M. Nixon, so there was, in his eyes at least, a precedent for Mr. Putin's action.(5)
Perhaps more ominous were these words from another Russian:
I just can't even hear about politics... I understand that it's our duty to be interested, that it's our future, for our children, and so on. But I simply don't believe in any of those politicians. I don't believe there's a single good person up there.(6)
Yes, 'American-style democracy' has quickly taken root in Russia!
It took thirty U.S. Presidencies (the Nixon Administration) to completely obliterate America's faith in democracy; Russian capitalism accomplished the same in only ONE presidency.
In conclusion, these recent words from Mikhail S. Gorbachev:
The regime won't change, there won't be a fight against corruption, the interests and the privileges of the oligarchy will be fully protected... [T]he idea of free and fair elections in Russia is simply ridiculous.(7)
Not for nothing did Marx call America the 'model country of the democratic swindle'(8)---although there's now serious competition coming from Russia.
1. New York Times, 1 January 2000, sec. 1, p. 1.
2. New York Times, 1 January 2000, sec. 1, p. 18.
3. New York Times, 2 January 2000, sec. 4, p. 9.
5. Ibid., sec. 1, p. 9.
8. Marx & Engels, The Civil War in the United States, International 1937, p. 271.