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The United States in the CIS: A compulsion to pursue democracy


MOSCOW. (Tatyana Stanovaya, for RIA Novosti). --Geopolitical strategies in the former Soviet republics are undergoing change.

The United States no longer intends to spare no effort to preserve post-Soviet regimes that are relatively loyal to the West, banking instead on weakening or overthrowing them.

U.S. President George Bush recently sent a letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev requesting him to hold free and democratic elections in the country, although previously protests during elections had been banned under the threat of the use of force. Similar "requests" are on their way to Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The U.S. Congress has approved the allocation of funds to support the opposition in these countries and Moldova, where Vladimir Voronin managed to get re-elected, notably with U.S. support. The post-Soviet regimes' fear of a "revolution" makes them accept the West's recommendations on democratization and, at the same time, raises the value of friendship with Moscow.

The roots of changes in U.S. geopolitical strategies should be sought in the events of September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington made the United States revise its attitude to the loyal, yet wayward, leaders of other countries. The formula "Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch", devised by President Franklin Roosevelt with regard to U.S.-Nicaraguan relations, no longer works. Nowadays, the U.S. is guided by another formula, trying to play the role of a world guardian of democracy.

Democracy in post-Soviet states with extremely low standards of living will always be unstable, and regimes weak, while the manifestation of waywardness will be extreme. The United States now wants to see such regimes in the CIS.

This was conclusively proved by American reaction to the uprising in Andijan: Uzbekistan, which had always been considered more pro-Western than other post-Soviet states, came under fire from the West for suppressing a riot in the province. The U.S. "sacrificed" relations with Islam Karimov for the sake of one goal: Avoiding the legitimization of the right to violence, which could be used against the opposition in other countries.

When it becomes clear that loyalty to the United States guarantees nothing, Russia turns out to be the only partner that can counterpose the argument for a "revolution" with one in favor of legitimate regimes. Russian spokesmen have repeatedly said that the authorities have the right to use force if criminal methods of struggle are used against them.

Against this background, a situation is arising where it is disadvantageous for CIS countries to spoil relations either with Russia or the West. The example of Central Asian countries convincingly demonstrates this.

Tatyana Stanovaya is a senior researcher at the Center for Political Technologies.

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