In the context of the recent political events that took place in Chisinau, the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives IDIS „Viitorul” carried out a study entitled “Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation - an obstacle in the development of democracy in the post-soviet region” http://www.viitorul.org/lib.php?l=ro&idc=296. This research offers a detailed analysis of the reasons for the failure of democratic transition in the post-soviet region with a special focus on external factors. […]
Free Europe: Where does the tendency of Kremlin to subordinate the political situation in the former Soviet republics come from?
Dumitru Mînzărari: Actually, as the study shows, it is easier to control an authoritarian state because it has only one pole of power. Thus, it is sufficient to control one pole of power and not three like the Parliament, Constitutional Court and Executive branch, which try to reach a balance between each other, as it happens in a traditionally democratic state. In this context, an authoritarian state where the three branches of power are controlled by one single force is easier to control from outside. This is what explains the preference of working with authoritarian states.
Free Europe: However, given the current situation when the West seems to be more interested in stability and less in promotion of democratic reforms does the Republic of Moldova have any chances to withstand the Russian offensive?
Dumitru Mînzărari: Going directly to you question, I can say that the results of the study show that without the assistance of the West the Republic of Moldova does not have any chances to withstand the pressure of the Russian foreign policy. Moldova is a very small actor and, at this moment, too vulnerable. However, I believe it would be a mistake to say that the West is interested in any stability and would not be interested to intervene. In reality, we can say that it is interested in stability within the context used by Moscow, meaning that the existing status quo very much disturbs the West since it does not have extensive tools to respond to Moscow. Being a pragmatic actor, it proceeds from the existing state of play. However, in case of Moldova and other post-soviet republics the West increases its capacity to intervene. Although very slow, but it does intervene into the process. In the study we have come to the conclusion that if the West does not invest more resources, does not resort to some better-thought strategies, Moldova might risk to see a more consolidated authoritarian system and get more and more under the control of Moscow.
Free Europe: Mr. Mînzărari, do you think that only Russia shall be blamed for degradation of the situation with democratic freedoms in Moldova?
Dumitru Mînzărari: I believe it is a bit exaggerated to say that only Russia shall be blamed for this situation. Russian factor is, to some extent, an additional factor. Maybe Russia does not always act in a well-thought manner, but nevertheless it does not pursue the goal to stop the democratic development in the country. The obstacles impeding the achievement of democratic development is more of an additional reaction to the policy promoted by Russia. Also, the fact that Russian policies impact the national security is another aspect and the study put emphasis on specific examples, as well as cases that existed even before.
Free Europe: Can you give some examples?
Dumitru Mînzărari: For instance, security challenges faced by other countries, even before Moldova. States from Latin America, states from Central Europe. When confronted with security problems, one state becomes more authoritarian because the Government uses the security-related challenges as pretext to intervene in all areas of life. This is the first thing. And secondly, experience of the world history shows that bigger states that produce an influence over smaller states, to a certain extent, export their political system upon them.
Free Europe: Namely in this context, Mr. Mînzărari, do you think democracy has a chance in Russia itself?
Dumitru Mînzărari: I think it does. The peculiarity of Russia is that it embarked on an evolutionist path of transition different from the one promoted by the West. Russia’s elite which has come to power today represent the old soviet elite that resorts to old methods of controlling the space. I would like to emphasize once again that this issue is elucidated in the given study where we speak about political culture, or the strategic culture of Russian elite, which means their vision of international relations. This is based on the fact that historical Russia used to have huge territories and in order to protect them Russian elite, as well as governors of Russia tried to maintain maximum control over these territories, to build a kind of a buffer zone between itself and potential enemies.
Free Europe: Do you think the situation might change with the appearance of other political elite in Russia?
Dumitru Mînzărari: Evidently. But, nevertheless, in the context of democratic transition, Russia has far bigger problems. It needs far more time. It needs to educate its population, first and foremost, so that it can contribute to democratic transition. A democratic transition can not take place if it is not driven by a demand from its population. And namely for this reason the situation in Moldova is more optimistic. Nevertheless, Moldova needs more assistance from the West in order to neutralize the foreign policy of Russia and naturally foster the security of Moldova. Hence the Government will be able to concentrate its efforts on issues contributing to democratic development in the country.