By David P. Solomon. Mr. Solomon is a research intern at the Center for Security Policy and a senior at Georgetown University, where he is majoring in Russian Language and minoring in Government.
Putin’s Russia has made an alarmingly rapid return to its totalitarian roots. Its president dramatically curtailed federalism by usurping powers heretofore exercised by thedemocratically elected governors of Russia’s regional territories. He restricted the practice of such basic rights as freedom of the press and assembly, while simultaneously preventing nongovernmental organizations from providing the oversight needed to bring such human rights violations to the attention of the global community. These trends are unsurprising given that President Putin considers centralized rule an inherent part of Russia’s “genetic code, its traditions, and the mentality of its people.”
Having amassed unprecedented levels of power, the Russian president could easily extend his tenure either through a constitutional amendment or by serving as Speaker of the State Duma until eligible for a third term in 2012. Indeed, the Russian president has stripped his nation of its checks and balances and left it with one choice in view of his extraordinary authority – “absolute prostration.”
The United States should closely monitor these developments simply because at the same time Putin is bolstering other dictators around the world, thereby contributing to a climate that is detrimental to our national security. Consequently, his actions cannot be ignored, but must be viewed as a direct threat to both American and global democracy.