Democracy in Russia: Trends and Implications for U.S. Interests [Updated August 29, 2006] [open pdf - 203KB]
"U.S. attention has focused on Russia's fitful democratization since Russia emerged in 1991 from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many observers have argued that a democratic Russia with free markets would be a cooperative bilateral and multilateral partner rather than an insular and hostile national security threat. Democratization faced challenges following terrorist attacks in Russia that culminated in the deaths of hundreds of school-children in the town of Beslan in September 2004. President Putin almost immediately proposed restructuring the government and strengthening federal powers to better counter such terrorist threats. The restructuring included integrating security agencies, switching to party list voting for the Duma eliminating direct elections of the heads of federal subunits, and asserting greater presidential control over civil society by creating a 'Public Chamber' consultative group of largely government-approved non-governmental organizations. All the proposals had been enacted into law or otherwise implemented by early 2006. The U.S. Administration and Congress have welcomed some cooperation with Russia on vital U.S. national security concerns, including the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), strategic arms reduction, NATO enlargement, and since September 11, 2001, the Global War on Terror. At the same time, the United States has raised increased concerns with Russia over anti-democratic trends, warning that a divergence in democratic values could eventually harm U.S.-Russian cooperation."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32662