Democracy in Russia: Trends and Implications for U.S. Interests [Updated January 23, 2007]   [open pdf - 286KB]

"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. Concerns about democratization progress appeared heightened after Vladimir Putin became president in 2000. Since then, Russians have faced increased government interference in elections and campaigns, restrictions on freedom of the media, largescale human rights abuses in the breakaway Chechnya region, and the forced breakup of Russia's largest private oil firm, Yukos, as an apparent warning to entrepreneurs not to support opposition parties or otherwise challenge government policy. […] 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 increasingly stymie U.S.- Russian cooperation. Some U.S. observers have urged restraint in advocating democratization in Russia, lest such efforts harm U.S.-Russian cooperation on vital concerns, while others have urged stronger U.S. advocacy, regardless of possible effects on bilateral relations."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32662
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