EU-Russia : to assist an "exit strategy"?

27 February 2012

How should the EU should react on the return of Vladimir Putin to Kremlin? Give a telephone call congratulating with the winning of presidential elections? Continue the business as usual the day after?

But wouldn`t it damage beyond repair the image of the West in the eyes of millions of Russian, aspiring democratic change? It is no secret that Vladimir Putin counts on winning elections in first round. The outcome is guaranteed by depriving the real rivals even from registration. There many uncomfortable but vital questions the participants of the conference "Russia after presidential elections: a partner or a pariah?" raised in attempt to find an adequate answer to profound political crisis Russia finds itself. It is not about anticipating the outcome in term of the winner, but the considering the growing protests of the awaken civil society.

"The "exit strategy"? for Vladimir Putin and his team is the only adequate measure to avoid the revolutionary developments" - says Mikhail Kasyanov - the opposition politician and former prime-minister of Russia. "The replacement of the elections by the simple swop of chairs agreed between two people is not to be accepted by Russians, who claim their constitutional rights. It doesn`t make sense to talk about the farce of the 4th March. We have to anticipate the reactions the farce causes". Free and fair elections is the apogee of the democratic practices in any modern open society, - underlined Mart Nutt the co-organizer of the event and the chair of Estonian Institute of Human Rights. The failure of Russian authorities to ensure the constitutional right to elect and be elected is a serious breach of Human Rights. Although he welcomed the raising activity of Russian civil society, he called for profound reflection on the ways out of the crisis, as one shouldn.t expect it to be resolved by itself. "Post-Putin era in Russia has already started, - says Evgeny Gontmakher from the Institute of Contemporary Development. - We have to design the new era now, because there might be just a few years or even month in our disposal. It means we have to sort out the political process and channel it to institutional frameworks".

The Baltic Center for Russian Studies Vladimir Jushkin is convinced that the West should stand tall for its values in the case, supporting Russian in their claims for justice. Without free and fair elections the authorities lose their legitimacy that will make current political crisis worse. Recently two resolutions on Russia were adopted by the European Parliament reminded the organizer of the event MeP Kristiina Ojuland, shadow reporter on Russia (ALDE), concluding the debate. There is a keen interest in democratic developments and clear choice to stand by Russian people supporting their claims of constitutional rights.

"If Kremlin continues to reject the dialog with Russian people, neglect their constitutional claims for democracy, it is isolating not only itself at home, but effect Russia`s status and reputation at international arena", - said MeP Ojuland to "EU Reporter", - "There are grave concerns that in desperate attempts to held power at any cost by Vladimir Putin and his them lead the whole country towards instability. Russia knows a long period of isolation it was doomed by Soviet leaders, it is obvious that contemporary Russians will not allow the 'iron curtain' to be dropped again. However, the deep political crisis, causing instability and unpredictability can't attract European investors, subsequently the modernization of Russia, which is at heart of EU-Russia relations is at stake".

Monday 27 February 2012

By Anna Vvedenskaia