Viktor Tkachuk est le directeur général de la fondation ukrainienne pour la démocratie People First. Il jouit de plus de 20 ans d'expérience au sein d'organes gouvernementaux du plus haut niveau. Il a notamment travaillé au Parlement, au Conseil de sécurité national et de la défense, et pour trois présidents depuis l'indépendance de l'Ukraine.
In the modern world of ultrahigh speeds, democracy has no other choice as a continuous cyclic evolution. Otherwise, it becomes inefficient. There may be different options of evolution: from “rocket-bomb democracy”, according to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's statement, to direct electronic democracy which has already started to change policies of the Russian Federation, Europe and the world as a whole.
Democracy accepts the challenge of time. Democracy itself becomes the challenge for the leading international players. In the USA and Europe, citizens have united behind movements such as “Occupy Wall Street”, “Occupy London” and “Occupy corporations”. In such a way citizens of the Russian Federation have started to unite themselves for transparent elections and development of the country in the 21st century.
There has come an interesting time of simultaneous new national and cultural interpretations of democracy. They have synergy and push the world to a new philosophy of relations between a citizen and authorities. Crisis helps the process of changes and evolution, softening a traditional slowness of state bureaucracies.
Russia naturally moves on in this process. In 2011, Putin repeatedly declared that there has come the time to democratise the political system which would meet demands of citizens and new challenges of history. At the Valdai club meetings and pre-election cycle articles, Putin highlights that Russia is a young democracy and consequently it can't be perfect yet. At the same time, the authorities are ready to the introduction of new forms of communication, including through the Internet and social networks.
Despite these statements, it won't be possible to quickly democratise the political sphere of Russia in practice. At least, due to the resistance of bureaucracy and apathy of the population, the majority of which has got used to the state paternalism. At the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, Russian sociological services fixed that almost 70% of citizens were choosing “order, even under conditions of violation of democratic principles and restriction of personal liberties”, and only about 20% were choosing “democracy with its absolute freedom”.
Now more and more Russians with the help of social networks make a choice in favour of democracy, however the prevailing majority still chooses “a traditional Russian order”.
We can say that at the present time conservative Russian society receives a considerable injection of democracy which is publicly recorded by the authorities. What will this result in? Democratic conservatism or conservative democracy? The latter seems less probable, at least due to the fact that in present conditions of super-fast public communication democracy can't be conservative, because then it quickly degenerates into oligarchy and authoritarianism, or public and political chaos. As an example it is worth looking at the present Egypt or Ukraine after the “Orange revolution” of 2004.
However, democratic conservatism as an option of a new Russian political ideology is completely possible. It is closest to demands and aspirations of both Putin (he personifies conservatism in Russian understanding), and that part of the society of Russia which requires changes (personifies democracy in Russian understanding and perception). In practice it will rather develop into an evolutionary change of the political system of Russia which will slowly move towards democracy by means of the renewal of elections of governors and registration of legislative initiatives of citizens in the State Duma, through the public fight against corruption and red tape abuse.
The seeds of transformation
It's no coincidence that during the Valdai club session in November of 2011, Putin recognised the possibility of transformations of the political system of Russia, but exclusively by means of an evolutionary way. The prime minister repeated a thesis for experts about “a cautious development of the political system in order not to slip out into instability”. At the same time, he outlined specific proposals on democratisation of Russia: increasing possibilities for self-government, developing inner-party democracy and moving the political system in the direction of direct democracy.
However, Putin's Russia will keep a state-corporate model of development. Its leading features are central and local monopolies, control and state regulation in the sphere of resources distribution. State corporations will further on rule in the Russian economy. Even President Dmitry Medvedev and Putin speak about privatisation of state corporations in a very remote prospect.
While the institutional system is weak, which is characteristic of Russia now, this model has high risks to lead to the result in the form of high inflation and general stagnation. In this model social objectives are realised only for the maintenance of the minimum stability and provision of support for the ruling group.
The beginning of the end of this model can be observed in Russia now. Hundreds of thousands of politically active citizens who will in a year or two turn into dozens of millions, demand system changes in political and state life. In 20 months they will start to demand redistribution of “private” property of oligarchs in the interests of workers. This will be before the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. However, the majority of them can completely agree with the fact that Putin will become the bearer of these changes responding upon the demands of time and transforming Russia without its political and territorial breakup.
Will Putin be ready to these exams? What sort of team will he choose for this purpose? How free will he be to make decisions? What will be the ideology of changes?
How can it occur? It is easy to predict. Our experts affirm that $1 of price per an oil barrel gives a proportional growth of $1 billion of annual income in the Russian budget. Considering the present prompt growth of oil prices - which can continue in the course of 2012-2013 - from $100 dollars per barrel to $120-$140, the Russian budget will receive $20 billion to $40 billion of additional profits this year alone. It is quite enough to fulfil the majority of pre-election social promises of Putin, but not enough for large-scale changes of Russia's economy.
Hence, a new Russian president will have the financial resource to keep social stability in Russia, but in order to really modernise the Russian economy, his political will and powerful trust among the people will still be required. Only this can stop the flight of capital from Russia with the speed of over $10 billion per month.
The greatest risks for the realisation of changes will be the Russian military oligarchy and foreign policy doctrine bred by Putin himself. Precisely this will give an answer how many external enemies will Russia create for itself.
Let's notice that Putin as a politician is universal, since he can become an identity of the new Russia now the same way as he did at the beginning of 2000, finishing the Yeltsin epoch. Potentially the Russian Federation can become a new platform not only for the regional economic development, but also for the creation of new public and humanistic models of the 21st century.
Russia constantly and justifiably has been proud of the ability of its best minds to create a new world humanistic product, new doctrines, concepts, and senses of existence. If Putin is ready to modernize the country and transform it in the manner of Peter the First’s reforms, it is possible that the Russian Federation will be able to surprise the world with the new model of relations between the authorities and citizens which will organically unite the best features of democracy and conservatism.
And if not, then 87 subjects of the Russian Federation, and some, with nuclear objects on their territories, will create turbulence, both in Putin's office and in the world as a whole.
The success of the imagined reforms will be able to help the present crisis world to renew the balance, passing from “rocket-bomb” democracy to “educational democracy” which will offer a way of an effective evolution of relations between citizens and authorities. Democratic transformation in Russia can become a worthwhile experience for everyone.
After all, the Russian path has always stood out with originality and peculiarity in practical performance. We'll be eagerly looking forward to a new answer of the Russian Federation to the modern challenge of history.