Russia the Democracy Killer
Over the past years, Russia has been exercising its imperial ambitions and trying to influence the course of events around the globe. The Kremlin targets not only Russia’s neighbors, to whom Moscow has various claims, but also the other independent states around the world, which, in one way or another fall within the scope of the Russian interests.
Russia has been actively using the whole arsenal of the Cold war era weapons: spies, agents of influence, puppet organizations and political movements. Previously, only the experts noted the Kremlin favoring technology of manipulating the so-called “useful idiots”, paying for publication of trendy materials in the media and funding radical political parties, carrying out cyber-attacks and involving terrorists. However, today it’s major political figures who voice concerns of such Kremlin’s practices. The threat has reached another level and the world can no longer ignore its effects and implications.
The Kremlin believes they can orchestrate the whole world and exercise all means available to achieve their goals.
The Kremlin believes they can orchestrate the whole world and exercise all means available to achieve their goals. There is a wide range of goals, in fact. They vary according to the object of influence. In some places, Russia wants to sow discord, somewhere it simply creates problems, or uses the right moment to divert attention. In some regions, the Kremlin re-ignites some smoldering internal conflict and weakens the state, and somewhere it moves to gain control over the whole country.
These tactical goals serve a single purpose - assertion on the world stage of a modern “Russian Empire” created by the blueprints of the Soviet Union. The Empire seeks control over parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Putin is lost in time, but this by no means makes his methods of influence less effective.
There exists no general recipe for countering these tactics at the moment. I am positive, such algorithm should be jointly developed and approved by all geopolitical actors, whose interests overlap with those of Russia. However, along with the obvious problems created by the Kremlin, there are some other, no less serious threats to the fundamental principles of a modern Western system. They are the result of subversive action and their fruit will ripe only in a few years. This is about the consequences of deliberate distortion of the principles of democracy.
Bidding at propaganda, Russia uses a variety of communication channels to deliver certain thought-through messages, at the same time distorting facts, bending quotes, and manipulating content. By funding publications in the leading foreign media outlets, the Kremlin delivers a blow on the fundamental principle of democracy, "freedom of speech". As a result, it turns into a "freedom of lies."
Through holding pseudo-referendums, the Kremlin not just legalizes its interests in certain regions, it questions the very principle of people’s will.
As Russia continues to bribe politicians, fund populists and radicals, it is simply trying to gain influence on the other countries’ policy. It undermines the principle of free elections in the interest of the state and society.
Through holding pseudo-referendums, the Kremlin not just legalizes its interests in certain regions, it questions the very principle of people’s will
Creating puppet or covertly controlled social movements, expert organizations and institutions, which visually possess all signs of independence, at the same time remaining under Moscow’s control, Russia is breaking over its knee the principles of building a civil society.
Through cyberattacks on websites of government organizations and by interfering with the vote count, Russia is trying to challenge the election results and attack the principle of a free people’s will and honest counting.
Such policy is obviously a deliberate Kremlin’s behavior, which raises the level of these threats and their impact on the future of democracies worldwide.
We all need to reconsider the ongoing processes and develop a plan of joint protection of fundamental democratic values. Only with the unity of approaches on countering Russia should we expect success.
Iryna Friz is a Chairperson of Ukraine’s Permanent Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly