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Editorial: Ill effects of Putin’s high-handed rule growing, cannot be concealed

  • September 17, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 07:40 p.m.
  • English Press

Cracking down on an anti-administration movement. Inflaming the people’s patriotism by emphasizing his confrontational stance toward Western countries, and shoring up his power. How long will Russian President Vladimir Putin continue his high-handed rule?


Nationwide local elections were held in Russia. Ruling party candidates won all of the elections for 16 regional governors, and the party also secured its majority in the Moscow assembly.

Before the elections, the approval ratings of both Putin and the ruling party, which supports him, declined, while large-scale protests were held in various parts of the country. The ruling party has won an overwhelming victory as, besides the party’s bolstering of its candidates in regions where they were reportedly forced to wage an uphill battle, opposition activists were excluded from the ballot on grounds including deficiencies in documents needed for candidacy.


Given this, it can hardly be said that the ruling party has won the people’s trust. In the Moscow assembly race, all of the ruling party’s candidates were rebranded to run as independents, apparently in fear of votes to be cast against the party.


Putin has been in power for 20 years, including his terms as president and as prime minister. Over these years, he has controlled the parliament, the courts and the media, intensifying his dictatorship. He envisages a scheme of holding power even after his current term in office expires in May 2024. There is no change in his tactics of containing his political rivals and the forces critical of him.


Reconcile with Ukraine


A sense of helplessness over his long-running administration has been growing among the people. Should Putin continue his high-handed politics under a veneer of democracy, protest movements may not subside, thus destabilizing society.


Russia’s economy remains mired down due to sanctions imposed by countries in Europe and North America. The punitive measures were implemented in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, southern Ukraine, in 2014. As long as Putin maintains his hard-line stance toward other countries, he will probably remain unable to expect the situation to improve.


It is troubling that Putin has embarked on beefing up his country’s nuclear capabilities, posing a threat to international security. After the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia expired, Putin said his country would also develop intermediate-range missiles, on the grounds that the United States had tested a medium-range missile.


At a naval test site in northern Russia, an explosion occurred last month while a new type of weapon was being developed. Russia should make details of the blast public, refraining from an opaque expansion of military capacity.


Amid deepening international isolation, Russia is advancing its security cooperation with China. It is necessary to keep an eye on cooperation between China and Russia, which seek to justify changing the status quo by force.


For Russia to amend its relations with European countries and the United States and win the lifting of their sanctions, it is indispensable to ease tensions with Ukraine. In a possible step toward this end, Russia and Ukraine earlier this month exchanged civilians and soldiers they had each held captive, letting them return home.


Also, in urging Putin to cooperate with international community, it is necessary to realize, at the earliest possible time, a summit of four countries: Russia and Ukraine, plus Germany and France as mediating countries.

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