The Death of Russian Democracy
By Brad Macdonald: January 2005
Our January 2004 Trumpet exposed the emerging power of Russian
President Vladimir Putin. A year has since passed. Here is a shocking
Democracy in Russia is gasping for its last
breaths, yet no one is prepared to stand up to the autocrat who is
violently strangling it. It seems President Putin’s actions in Russia
are being condoned by world leaders. This will prove to be a deadly
As Putin squeezes the last vestiges of
democracy from Russia, there are two critical trends to watch. First,
look for Russia to undermine America’s global influence. Second, and
more importantly, look for efforts from Europe to curb Russian
power—and for competition between Russia and the European Union to
Putin’s 2004 Conquests
Last January, the Trumpet showed that President Putin had won the trust
of the majority of his people and gained overwhelming control over the
Duma—Russia’s law-making body. Throughout 2004, radical changes
continued within Russia.
One of the most notable changes was initiated
in September, when, using the tragic hostage crisis in Beslan as his
excuse, Putin proposed the incorporation of a new “vertical” system of
power in Russia. This resulted in a draft law, approved by the Duma in
December, under which regional governors will be nominated by the
president (Putin)—not voted in. Putin argued that this “single chain of
command” system is critical to fighting terrorism. Under this system,
Putin will have the power to dissolve local parliaments. Pending
consideration of the new law by the Federation Council, one man will
have virtually unchecked control over the politics of the entire
There is also a pending amendment in Russia
that will allow the Kremlin to directly control the appointment of
judges across the country. This would additionally give Putin judicial
Analysts at think-tank Stratfor wrote, “In
effect, Putin is capitalizing on the Beslan crisis … to firmly entrench
his personal power and ‘re-Sovietize’ Russia …. Putin is becoming a
traditional Russian ruler; one who desires no institutional blocks on
his power” (Sept. 13, 2004; emphasis mine throughout). Democratic
checks and balances in Russia are being systematically destroyed.
The Wall Street Journal outlined further
conquests of Putin in 2004: “… Mr. Putin has waged a brutal war against
the Chechens …. He has tried to retake control of Moldova by stealth.
He has threatened the government of Georgia …” (Nov. 30, 2004). Most
recently, Putin has been intensely involved in the Ukrainian election
debacle, congratulating the pro-Russian “winner” before the Supreme
Court scrapped the election results.
But that is not all that happened in Russia
last year. Putin also gained tighter control over the nation’s great
oil and gas reserves, as we predicted in last January’s issue.
When Putin came into office, the rich oligarchs
who controlled Russia’s oil and gas companies were given two options:
They would submit to and support Putin’s rule, or they would lose their
company and perhaps even be arrested. The latter happened to Mikhail
Khordorkovsky, ceo of the giant Russian oil company Yukos.
Khordorkovsky is currently in jail and his company, Yukos, is fighting
to stay out of bankruptcy. Here is where it gets interesting.
On December 19, a subsidiary company of Yukos
(called Yuganskneftegaz) was auctioned off by the state at a fraction
of its real value. The state-controlled company Gazprom, which was
expected to win the deal, did not make a single bid. Instead, a
previously unheard-of company, Bailkalfinansgroup, stepped in and took
Yugansk for $9.35 billion—just $1 billion over the starting bid and
about half what the company is worth. Many Russian experts believe
Bailkalfinansgroup to be a front company for Gazprom, one calling the
sale “scandalous.” Yukos has long denounced the auction as illegal,
state-sponsored theft. In November, Putin’s own economic adviser called
the sale “daylight robbery,” stating that it was unnecessary because
Yukos was paying its tax bills.
With Russia’s vast oil and gas resources under
his control, Putin will have gained considerable global influence.
Russia is the second-largest oil supplier in the world, and with the
current global energy crisis getting worse, President Putin has a lot
of leverage over other nations.
Throughout 2004, Putin also seized further
control of Russian print and electronic media. “Independent-minded
journalists increasingly risk losing their jobs, and some have lost
their lives” (Wall Street Journal, op. cit.). The Russian media has
essentially become a conduit for Putin propaganda! It is interesting,
then, that at the November trade conference in Santiago, Chile, it was
reported that President Putin was seen lecturing U.S. President Bush on
democracy—even complaining that Westerners don’t understand Russian
You can be sure that Europe is not going to
tolerate Putin’s power-consolidation much longer. Europeans have not
forgotten their history with Russia; the Battle of Stalingrad remains
in their memories.
Bible prophecy foretells that Europe will
become a superpowerful military machine. While Europe might be nervous
at the direction Russia is heading, that direction gives Europe a
perfect excuse to more speedily unite and consolidate its own power.
For more information, request our free booklets Russia and China in
Prophecy and Nahum. These will clearly explain to you the future of
Russia and German-led Europe.
Copyright ©2004 Philadelphia Church of God.
All rights reserved.