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Garry Kasparov on the Farce of Russian Democracy

Garry Kasparov, in an op-ed for CNN:

It’s fair to ask, why bother with the pretense of democracy? Dictatorships are obsessed with the superficial trappings of legitimacy and democracy, both as distraction and to sully the meaning of these terms. And after decades of liquidating the opposition and crushing all dissent, a despot might even enjoy thinking that he’s as popular as the worthless polls, elections and state media say he is.

These sham votes aren’t only to provide Putin with cover in Russia, where civil society barely exists, but to give foreign leaders the pretext of treating Putin like an equal instead of confronting him like the autocrat he is. It also allows foreign media to continue calling him “president,” putting him on par with the leaders of free countries. As with every tyrant before him, Putin thrives partly due to the cowardice of those who could deter him but choose not to.

These aren’t just semantics. It would be awkward, even outrageous, to make deals with dictator Putin, to trust him, or to speak fondly of him the way President Donald Trump does. The title feeds the hypocrisy, and so the myth of Putin the elected, Putin the popular, must be perpetuated.

Part of the de-Trumping of America should be to stop treating Putin as an elected official.

Sunday, 5 July 2020