The Russian Parliamentary Elections Do Matter
November 30, 2007
How much do the results of the Russian parliamentary elections this Sunday matter for the United States? From today’s vantage point in Washington, given the urgent problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and I could probably name a few other places, I guess not all that much. But since I am in the Russia “expert” business, it is in my interest to make the counterargument, so let me give it a go.
Russia, of course, matters for a number of reasons we do not have to belabor here. What Putin decides to do about his future matters a great deal for Russia’s future as well as the U.S.-Russian relationship, and he has made these Duma elections a referendum on his leadership. With him leading the United Russia party list, it is important that the party come out with at least a two-thirds representation in the Duma. Anything less will be regarded almost as a defeat and this result would also make changing the Russian Constitution, if that is desired, a little more difficult.