Putin Draws Down the Curtain

From Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy:

It’s safe to say that no one really expects this December’s Russian elections to be a fair contest. All the same, the Kremlin’s decision to cut the number of international observers invited by two thirds is a particularly brazen demonstration that Vladimir Putin has stopped trying to even appear remotely democratic. Europe’s largest election watchdog, the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, has grudgingly accepted Putin’s conditions, having little other choice. Russia is planning to allow 300 to 400 observers to observe polling throughout a country that spans eleven time zones.

It will likely be fewer than that.

Read on to find out why, but that isn’t all:

Putin’s more troubling suggestion may be his proposal that OSCE permanently limit observers in seven other post-Soviet states and ban them from issuing reports until official results are published. Again, it’s not really news that Russia’s leaders feel they have the right to control political outcomes in their “near-abroad,” but they’ve rarely been so forthright about it before. Armenia’s government has already heartily endorsed the proposal.

Tis meanwhile is just funny:

All the same, Putin thinks that Russia has a lot to teach the West about democracy. At this week’s EU-Russia summit he announced plans to start a Russian-funded think tank to promote democracy and human rights in Europe and counter the influence of western NGOs in his country.

Needless to say this set off Pejman:

Good. Now tell me why on Earth it is that there is no serious commentary in foreign policy circles regarding the need to change and toughen up our policy concerning Russia. Tell me why on Earth it is that there is no serious commentary in foreign policy circles regarding the need to revive and resuscitate the successful negotiating strategy that the United States used during the Reagan Administration against the Soviet Union.

What? Are we waiting for Putin to see the light? I promise you he has. And I promise you just as well that he has decided to cut off the electricity in response.

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