In the course of the entire time of President Putin's presidency Britain has been the only one to accuse Russian President in authoritarianism for the first time, states the Guardian.
Despite the fact that British officials continue to claim that Great Britain will not change its position in establishing close ties with Russia, they are worried that the process of democratization could stop and the country may incline towards developing an authoritative society.
Britain's Foreign Minister Bill Rammel has shared his fears before visiting Russia. “We have certain doubts regarding the current situation with pluralism and free mass media in Russia. Both of these issues are key to democracy,” stated the minister.
Both Washington and London began changing their views towards Russian government even sooner than the parliamentary elections of December 7th, 2003. On November 20th President Bush, Secretary of State Collin Powel, Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had all gathered in London to discuss the so-called “Russian question”. Powell raised a question concerning democracy in Russia, claiming that Putin’s authoritarianism poses a serious problem. Rice in turn reminded everyone of Russia’s long history of totalitarian government. Difference between the USSR and Putin’s Russia is obvious; it is also obvious to continue establishing business contacts with this country, stated Rice. Blair however objected such statement, claiming that despite the overall significance of Russia's historic past, Putin’s behavior remains a problem. Bush fully supported him.
It was right after that November's meeting that Collin Powell began methodically criticize Putin’s politics. Within the next two weeks, he made a strong statement urging Russia troops to leave Moldavia and Georgia. Later, in the course of his latest visit to Moscow, Collin Powell has published an article in Russian newspaper “Izvestia”. While being diplomatic in the overall content, the article clearly criticized Putin’s authoritarianism.
Today’s enmity of the West towards Russia has to do mainly with the fact that Russian democracy is about to dye out completely. European Union wants neither integration nor partnership with non-democratic and unpredictable Russia. In case Russia will be included in the EU, it will demand the ultimate power. Neither one of the European countries will ever allow for it to happen. It is a common belief in Europe that Russia is incapable of integration; it simply wants to integrate other countries. Europe does not want powerful Russia with its global ambitions. While being powerful and authoritarian, Russia only scares those Western countries off. Due to the fact that democratic transformation processes in Russia have been temporary stopped, some other “iron curtain” may once again be drawn, considers director of a new program of Russia and CIS Alexander Rar.
When Boris Yeltsin had first introduced Vladimir Putin to the entire country four years ago, he said the following: here is a man, who will lead young politicians to establish total democracy in Russia in XXI century. Today, however, we can see that neither one of those young politicians has stayed in the government for long. Those are mainly young pragmatics-hardliners that govern the country, not liberals.
The West got a bit fearful that politics of modern Russia is aimed at recreating former Soviet empire. Moving away from those liberal values of the West, recreating Soviet symbolism and perhaps a one-party system in the future, all of these factors make Western politicians to believe that Russia attempts to follow footsteps of Peter I, who used to contemplate in the following way: today we need Europe only to acquire strength. Tomorrow we will turn our backs to it.
Many compare Putin with Stalin. Some even notice President's veiled rather positive remarks towards his not so distant predecessor. True Stalinists however would disagree with such statement.
P.S. Astrologer Valeri Ledovskih has stated in the beginning of January that “Putin’s administration will try to make a dictator of him. However, they will be unable to succeed, since our President is morally stable.” Nevertheless, according to the astrologer, Russian power will strengthen in 2004 and several amendments to the Constitution will be made.