Friday, March 9, 2007

Evaluation of current events

NPR (National Public Radio) is doing a series called “The Resurgence of Russia.” You can go to the website and either read the reports or listen to the broadcast.

Here's an overview:

"As a newly stable Russia prepares for the post-Putin era, NPR examines what kind of country it has become, and whether there is a real chance for a new Cold War between the aspiring energy superpower and the West.

New Cold War: Part 1 examines Russian foreign policy, the motivation behind anti-Western rhetoric, and whether Russia can pose a true threat to Western countries' security. Moscow has flexed its muscles by hiking gas prices and cutting energy supplies to its neighbors, while Washington has accused the Kremlin of using energy as a political tool to blackmail and threaten pro-Western rivals.

The Soviet Union: Part 2 explores the extent of Russia's new authoritarian culture — and its similarities to the old Soviet Union. Although critics say Putin has brought back many of the old dictatorship's traits, Russians today can travel freely and read what they want, and the country is undergoing a huge consumer boom.

Dissidents: Part 3 takes a look at some of the country's leading human rights activists and whether they are part of a new generation of dissidents. The government has recently cracked down against rights groups and other nongovernmental organizations, while the recent murders of some of the Kremlin's top critics has drawn comparisons with KGB practices under the Soviet Union.

Democracy: Part 4 assesses the reforms of the 1990s, during which post-communist Russia embarked on major changes meant to transform it into a capitalist democracy. Putin is often praised for bringing an end to what's seen as the rule of chaos and corruption under former President Boris Yeltsin. But many of the officials who ran the government under Yeltsin say that's not the case. They say Putin put an end to a period of dynamic democratizing reform and allowed corruption to balloon since he came to power in 2000.

U.S. Foreign Policy: Part 5 examines U.S. foreign policy toward Russia. In 2001, President Bush famously said he had looked into Putin's soul and liked what he saw. But now, relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest level since the Cold War, and Washington faces the need to adjust its attitude to Russia's re-emerging role in global affairs. "

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