Putin’s fall not enough
Navalny outlines the path to Russian democracy
09/30/2022, 7:55 p.m
From a Russian prison camp, Kremlin opponent Navalny encourages his compatriots to abolish the presidential system. The West should not believe that Putin’s resignation from the head of state guarantees a new beginning in Russia. “That would be naive at best.”
Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has called for an end to the presidential system in Russia. It is in the hands of the Russian people alone to determine their political system, Navalny writes in a guest article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” and the “Washington Post”. “Nevertheless, the West, which has personally sanctioned Russia as a state and its elite, should make its strategic vision of a parliamentary democracy in Russia as clear as possible.” Navalny described the expectation that a change of power would automatically lead to a change in the system as “naïve at best”. The real party to the war is the entire elite.
Putin and his military top officials did not see war as a “disaster” but as a “great means of solving problems.” Navalny concludes that the Russian elite have derived some “infallible laws” from this: “War is not that expensive. It solves all domestic political problems. It lets approval ratings skyrocket, it doesn’t do any major damage to the economy, and most importantly : Winners go unpunished.”
“aggression organic life form of the elite”
The West should not hope that this attitude will change if Russian President Vladimir Putin is one day replaced by other members of the current leadership. He writes that “the real party to the war” is “the entire elite, the power system that produces imperial Russian authoritarianism in the first place”. External aggression is “the organic way of life of this elite”.
According to Navalny, the future model for Russia is therefore “a parliamentary republic” instead of the current presidential system. “The most important thing about this remedy, I believe, is the radical reduction of power in the hands of a single person, the formation of a government with a majority in parliament, an independent legal system and a significant increase in competence for local and regional authorities.”