Russian ‘democracy’

Interesting — though unsurprising — piece in this morning’s New York Times…

A new autocracy now governs Russia. Behind a facade of democracy lies a centralized authority that has deployed a nationwide cadre of loyalists that is not reluctant to swat down those who challenge the ruling party. Fearing such retribution, many of the people interviewed for this article asked not to be identified.

The government has closed newspapers in St. Petersburg and raided political party offices in Siberia. It was hardly unusual when in Samara, in the nation’s center, organized crime officers charged an opposition campaign official with financial crimes shortly before the December parliamentary elections and froze the party’s bank accounts.

Here in this historic region on the Volga River, Mr. Putin’s allies now control nearly all the offices, and elections have become a formality. And that is just as it should be, they said.

“In my opinion, at a certain stage, like now, it is not only useful, it is even necessary — we are tired of democratic twists and turns,” said the leader of Mr. Putin’s party in Nizhny Novgorod, Sergei G. Nekrasov. “It may sound sacrilegious, but I would propose to suspend all this election business for the time being, at least for managerial positions.”

Er, the UK is now dependent for its gas on this new model state.