More and more people in the world now understand that Russia is not like everyone else.
It seems to have emerged today from an aggressive past. A country that attacks its neighbors threatens the whole world, feeds on fear, and sees its greatness in this.
When did Russia become like this?
When did they take a wrong turn?
Let’s try to answer this question now.
Some Western politicians needed to see the ruins of Ukrainian cities and villages with their own eyes in order to understand how inadequate this country has become. Therefore, they are certain that the turning point “in the wrong direction” occurred on Feb. 24, 2022, when Putin launched a large-scale offensive against Ukraine from the north, east, and south.
A very convenient version to those who continued to maintain friendly and business relations with Putin until the last moment.
Despite the fact that almost 8 years have passed since the occupation of Crimea, and the seizure of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, thousands of people killed – and not only Ukrainians. Remember the MH17 passenger plane shot down by Russian terrorists?
But the turn away from the direction of a normal country that acts according to international rules and norms did not even happen in 2014 for the Russian Federation. After all, 2014 was not the first time it brazenly and openly violated international law, unleashing a war against a sovereign state.
Remember the aggression against Georgia in 2008?
Though, Putin openly stated his goals to restore Russia’s global role, and thereby restore its influence in the post-Soviet space, a year earlier at the Munich Security Conference.
And in 2005, a few months after the victory of the Orange Revolution, he declared that “the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
The goal of Putin's foreign and domestic policy is to settle the consequences of this “catastrophe” – to return to a pre-1991 world.
So, maybe the Russian Federation has deviated from the democratic path by electing Vladimir Putin as president?
So, December 31, 1999, when Putin has been ruling Russia (first as acting president, then president, then prime minister, and then again president for life) – was a turning point in the history of this country.
But Putin does not determine the mood of society – he rather adapts to it and uses it.
And irreversible changes away from democracy in Russia began even earlier.
Maybe during the massive falsifications and manipulations in the presidential elections of 1996?
This is how Boris Yeltsin’s second term was organized, and the Russians remained silent.
No, even earlier.
In 1994, when the Kremlin unleashed a bloody war against the Chechens who sought independence.
Russia's then-president, who for many in the world was still associated with the struggle for freedom, the one who foiled the communist putsch in Moscow three years earlier, the same Boris Yeltsin decided to drown in the blood of those who desired the freedom of the proud Caucasian people.
But even before this war, the president of the Russian Federation, under threat of losing his power, shot his own people. In October 1993, in the midst of a political crisis, a conflict within the Russian parliament, which announced his removal from the duties of the head of state, Yeltsin issued a decree on the dissolution of the legislative body.
The reluctance of the deputies to implement the president’s unconstitutional decision prompted Yeltsin to use force. Parliament and its public defenders were shot by tanks. According to officials, 150 people died.
These events seem to be the last mass protest by Russians against abuses of power, where they showed courage in trying to stop the security forces.
Since then, all other acts of defiance have ended in mass and almost unimpeded arrests of protesters.
The forceful dissolution of parliament in October 1993 was ambiguously perceived in Russia and the world. After all, it looked wild and cruel on the one hand while on the other, Yeltsin’s political opponents were communists and other unpleasant characters for democrats.
Perhaps, for the sake of further democratic development, it was worth doing exactly the same with them.
However, we see how Yeltsin’s victory in his political confrontations won with the help of tanks and led the Russian Federation away from the democratic path.
In Ukraine, a similar political crisis (confrontations between the president and parliament) was resolved in a different way: early elections of the legislative body and the head of state. President Kravchuk lost power, but Ukraine retained its democracy.
Meanwhile, the Russian “honeymoon” with freedom ended in two years. This time it was a bit longer than in 1917 when it lasted from February to October.
Then the movement of the country developed along the usual Russian track of curtailing freedoms: the second term of Yeltsin’s presidency, the second war against Chechnya and the destruction of its capital Grozny, the election of Putin which turned into a lifelong position, the war against Georgia, then another, and the war against Ukraine which will be the last for Russia.
Because Ukraine is not Russia. We are building our state on the foundation of freedom, which is the basic element of our mentality. Instead, Russia has again become the center of the world of unfreedom.