John Dunlop is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an expert on Russian domestic politics, Russian nationalism, and the decline of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, he was an election monitor in a number of former Eastern Bloc countries transitioning to democracy.
In a recent sit-down at a coffee shop on the campus of Stanford University,National Review Online’s Daniel Foster spoke with Dunlop about the end of the failed Medvedev experiment and the return of Vladimir Putin. The conversation also covered the dynamics of Russia’s upcoming parliamentary elections, “Putin’s Karl Rove,” his Sovietesque imperial ambitions, and what passes for democracy in the increasingly corrupt and totalitarian Russian Federation.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the second half of this conversation.
DANIEL FOSTER: You were writing and producing work in the transitional period between the Soviet era and the Russian Federation. Can you compare the quality of liberal and democratic institutions in the emerging Russian federation in the early 1990s and in Russia now? Has it gotten better, worse?
JOHN DUNLOP: I think if you’re talking about elections, there is no question they have gotten worse. I don’t have any doubts about that, because the [Russian] elections I monitored in 1995 and 1996, while there were some significant problems, nevertheless, there was a large degree of freedom, and there’s no question that the people were able to express their will in the election — although we had questions about, for example, Yeltsin using his control over television, and a few other things. But compared to what we have today, it was freedom itself.