Liberal groups abroad and in Russia consider Putin’s way of ruling authoritarian and inefficient. Taking into account that regimes, which liberals don’t like and which are ruled by a strong personality are usually labelled as fragile, the logical consequence would then be a sort of a «color revolution» as in Georgia, Ukraine or Kirghizstan. Of course, nothing is impossible in nowadays Russia, but in my opinion those who believe in an imminent «street revolution» are living a dream.
With regard to effectiveness, there’s no method to assess it, in the case of a government. For instance, the United States, which can not be taken as a weak government, proved how effective it could be in Iraq, during the hurricanes or in the CIA and torture matters. If compared with the policy in Chechnya, this is a total success.
The current government is much more effective than Yeltsin’s during the 90s. Then, most of the country was no longer ruled, the national production capacity had dropped in more than half, and the Kremlin did not succeed in passing a single legislation in the Duma, which was controlled by the communists. Not many liberals talked about the collapse of the country then, though. .
Of course, today’s Russia can hardly be described as a democratic model and some things are worrisome. However, it’s ridiculous to believe that we have evolved from a Yeltsin-style «democracy» to a Putinian «autocracy». Today, it’s very difficult to think of tanks shooting against an elected parliament or to think of the national wealth being privatized to benefit the family or business friends of the president, or to think of the policy of the country being passed on those friends.
The situation in Russia is quite different from the one in Ukraine before the «orange revolution». There’s no Viktor Yushchenko leading the Russian opposition or a weak and hated-by-the-public-opinion Kuchma in the presidency. With a popularity level of about 70%, nobody can say Vladimir Putin is not legitimated –or, now that we talk about this, that he will not resist the pressure of the streets.
Besides, Liberals don’t mobilize the streets in Russia, but communists and nationalists. Their red and brown revolution would actually be in colors, but less pink than in the dreams of liberals. They must adapt themselves to this simple idea: Russia already had its orange revolution in 1991 and the results were not conclusive. As in Ukraine, by the way. Yushchenko’s government political crises show that colored revolutionaries also have efficiency and democracy-related problems.
Actually, for its Western critics, the Putin government’s main problem is that the friends of his adversaries and political thinkers have lost their places in the political game. This can happen to anybody in politics and such a fact does not justify a revolution –whose occurrence is not a casual event. Despite all these, I have no doubts that in year 2008, in the next presidential elections, there will be an attempt to overthrow the Russian government by another means, which will not be elections.

Der Standard (Austria)

«Braucht est wirklich eine Orangenrevolution ?», by Viatcheslav Nikonow, Der Standard, January 2, 2006.