Feature

Siding with Russian protesters

Vladimir Putin may have won Russia’s presidential election, but “the end of Putinism” is on the horizon.

Jackson DiehlThe Washington Post

Vladimir Putin may have won Russia’s presidential election, said Jackson Diehl, but “the end of Putinism” is on the horizon. If street protests continue to grow, Putin could be forced out sooner rather than later. But whether he leaves in a year, or at the end of his six-year term, the U.S. should “recognize what is coming.” In the early stages of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration was slow to support the uprisings, because its first impulse was to cling to familiar autocrats. We shouldn’t make that same mistake again. As educated middle classes have emerged in Russia—and China, too—they have begun to challenge their dictatorial rulers, and “they won’t tolerate exclusion from political decision-making for another 10 years.” These countries must now decide whether they will respond to dissent by allowing major political reform, like Soviet reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, or go down fighting, like Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak. America’s choice is no less stark: We can ignore the regimes’ repression out of fear of angering them—or we can be on the right side of history.

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