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October 14, 2007



Thanks for your comments and the link to Mr. Bukovsky’s article that I missed at the time it was published. I agree with everything you and Bukovsky write. The actions by and developments in the U.S. government in the post-9/11 years have tarnished the American model as ideal for the forces of democratization around the world and actually strengthened the hands of governments that abuse their power in violation of the most fundamental democratic rights and values.

Dmitri Glinski

The sad paradox is that in Russia and other less-than-democratic societies, the U.S. continues to be invoked as a normative standard, but not by the democrats and human rights advocates any more. Instead, it provides a convenient reference point for those who, like Mr. Putin himself, feel most at ease in a political environment where nobody can claim that "high moral ground". U.S. policies, whether actual or perceived, are frequently used these days, in Russia and elsewhere, to justify super-presidentialism and executive power abuse, high barriers to political participation, violations of human rights, and the kind of foreign policy realism that relies on crude power to achieve its aims at the expense of the weaker nations. And it's for this very reason that in recent years Russia's democrats and human rights defenders have kept as much distance as possible from their USG connections. They also have by and large lost their confidence in the USG actual intentions of helping democracy and democrats when push comes to shove, as opposed to using them instrumentally to advance U.S. economic and military interests.

While neither Sergei Lavrov nor any other Russian government official has sufficient democratic credibility to criticize U.S. domestic policies, there are still quite a few truly non-governmental, independent voices in Russian society. They should be given more opportunities to comment in U.S. media on matters of global concern, including USG actions. A number of Russia's democrats have the requisite moral authority, wisdom and experience of standing up for human rights to bring into this debate. For a relatively recent example, see this article by Vladimir Bukovsky, Russia's leading human rights campaigner from the 1970s (who is currently running a hopeless campaign for Russia's presidency):

Torture's Long Shadow

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