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The two faces of Democracy

May 6th, 2014 | Posted by admin in Law & Politics

It seems like only a few months ago that the writer was writing a Christmas themed post on the riots in Kiev. Since then, any opportunity for festive goodwill has long since evaporated for Ukraine.

Returning to Ukraine in response to the annexation of Crimea in a subsequent post, despite Russia asserting that it had no more territorial ambitions in the area (a throwback to 1939), recent events have shown that this might not be strictly true.

As the violence of pro-Russian forces (or Russian Army troops, as some claim) inflamed an already tense national mood over the last week, Acting President Olexander Turchynov was forced to act- and this writer forced to return to the scene of previous posts. President Turchynov announced very recently that the Ukrainian military and security forces would act rapidly and with equal force in the ten towns and cities that have been taken by the- rebels? Freedom fighters? Soldiers? Protesters?

Moscow denies any direct intervention-with Army regiments currently positioned along the Ukrainian border. Such an assertion carries about as much weight as Andy Coulsons’s recent assertions in the Old Bailey that he had no or limited knowledge of the phone hacking at the News of the World whilst he was Editor. Talks are on going between Russia and the US, and between the EU and relevant parties. Sanctions, already imposed, are being discussed with even more severity. However, Russia itself has the ultimate sanction, being Gazprom; the energy giant has the ability to turn off the lights all over Europe.

Diplomacy is normally conducted in quiet or in secret, with subtle nuances understood by both sides, and more left unsaid than said. The current situation in Ukraine is anything but; a more obvious act of conquest has not been seen since the Blitzkrieg in Europe. It is as if President Putin feels so secure and confident in his position (and, why would he have any reason not to feel so confident?) that he can so obviously slowly take over Ukraine (a former satellite state of the USSR, and long claimed by Russia) in plain sight of the West, knowing that the West and UN will not take any action against him.

Matters of international diplomacy or trade are seemingly not so bad if conducted out in the open. It appears that, for the British at least, it is the underhand nature of such activities that angers them the most. Of such is the hallmark of a stable democracy; government matters should be conducted with full openness and transparency, and nothing should be kept from the electorate.

As such, in being so open as regards the Ukraine, President Putin is acting in the best traditions of an open democracy. By hiding matters (such as suspected Met Police cover ups in some recent high profile cases, the UK Government is not upholding such democratic principles. One risks the wrath of the electorate- another risks no more than headlines and speeches.

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