I thought that Angela Stent’s brief mention of the reaction to Putin’s reset in her US-Russian relations talk this evening was interesting because of the contradiction set up between class and civil rights. She said that the urban middle class believed that the Duma election was rigged and that they had no say in the matter. She then went on to say that the thing the US has the most in common with Russia is a concern for civil rights. While the demonstrations exhibited by the middle class seemed to be similar to those found in the US before and after elections, it seemed interesting that on a national and international scale that Russia would politically disregard an entire influential sector of the population, which does not seem to be in line with the pursuance of a policy of civil rights. I think it can also be widely agreed that demonizing the US in response to the elite’s protest was definitely not the right solution, although it can be likened to our own Red Scare of years past.
This made me think of the relatively unsuccessful quests of activism we have studied in this class and references a history when demonstrations were the only means of participation in a political party under the Tsar. From this incident and Stent’s answer to the democracy question, it seems clear that Russia’s government is unable to leave behind a past of power leaders with little respect for the people over which they rule. In the absence of democracy, authoritarian leadership certainly provides for the social certainty she said was wanted by the Russian people, but only because there can be no choice but to be certain of one’s station when the government ignores the ideas of its people.