Op-Ed Commentary by Chris Devonshire-Ellis – February 23rd, 2022
The rights and wrongs of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine aside – sending in peacekeeping troops to stop further escalation of an eight-year civil war between Kiev and the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions – a striking feature of the sanctions is their inclusion of all 351 Russian State Duma politicians who voted to pass the recognition of the two Republics.
While the EU has every right to place sanctions, and target if it feels so inclined banks, top commanders and other members of the military (after all it is a military incursion they are upset about), it appears a gross abuse of the democratic process to punish Russia’s democratically elected politicians – with a rather wider and knowledgeable background over the causes of the Ukrainian crisis than those in Brussels. The EU is essentially saying “Look, you were elected by the Russian people, you had a vote, but we don’t agree with the outcome. Because you didn’t vote the way we want, we will now punish you.”
This is a very poor, and frankly dangerous perversion of the democratic process and its inclusion as part of sanctions to hit specific voters is abhorrent. The Russian people elected their State Duma representatives. Not all will have been fully free of electoral abuse, I get that. But many of them are. Sanctioning all of Russia’s elected representatives for their vote is a poor way of promoting democratic values. It fact it is quite the opposite, it is damaging democracy. Faced with such abuse is it any wonder that increasing numbers of the global population prefer a benign dictatorship to keep them safe and install law and order rather than an increasing corrupt fascism using democracy to hide behind an increasingly sinister agenda?
The EU has not contacted any of the Russian State Duma politicians involved to listen to their reasonings. It’s purely a complete rejection of opinion by one group of politicians against another without any debate or explanations being sought.
The West is at a critical juncture, and it appears uncertain that it even knows its behaviour is anti-democratic. We are democratic, you had a vote, we don’t like it. Now face the music.
Brussels just took a step closer to a fascist authoritarianism, and nobody in the West appears to have blinked an eyelid. What Putin is actually showing the West is a lesson in history, a desire to end an eight-year civil war in neighbouring Ukraine, and for the United States to remove weapons from its borders. A vote was duly held to do so.
My fear in that the West punishing Russia for this, followed now with US Secretary of State Blinken refusing to meet Russia’s Foreign Minister is that the West isn’t really interested in democratic values or diplomatic solutions at all. Democracy is now used purely as a cover to persuade the many that the minority know best, that only they are right, everybody else is wrong, and therefore threatening and not to be trusted. It is a false narrative. Where are Europe’s academics when we need them?
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