A vast majority of the elites in Europe and the U.S. are concerned about Russia’s retreat from democracy, according to a survey released today by Aspen Institute Berlin.
They agree that growing authoritarianism in the country, as illustrated among other things by the prosecution of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is “problematic for the West.” But the survey found less agreement among key thought leaders as to what specific policy measures should be employed by the West, or what impact the retreat will have on Russia’s investment climate, PRNewswire reported this week.
The survey, in particular, has revealed that awareness of the prosecution of Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky has become a significant issue among Western elites.
An exceptionally high 84-90% of European elites have followed the trial in the media, while only a 49% plurality of U.S. elites have been following the it.
Majorities in all three regions take the position that the trial is “primarily political” while only one-in-ten elites believe it’s a case of actual criminal wrongdoing.
Similarly, elites, by large margins, have concluded that the Khodorkovsky verdict was not fair, particularly in the U.S. at 73%, with 66% and 61% majorities in Western and Eastern Europe respectively.
While the assessment of Kremlin motives is also harsh, there is less clarity on this issue among Western European elites. 63% of U.S. elites and 58% of Eastern European elites believe the Kremlin intended to “punish an opponent and intimidate others” rather than prosecute wrongdoing by a businessman. Only 49% of Western European elites take this position.
However, respondents’ views varied as they were asked to comment on the investment climate in Russia. A 59% majority of elites in the U.S. have an unfavorable view of Russia as a place to invest, while only 41% take that view in Western Europe and, surprisingly, only 26% of Eastern Europeans are negative about Russian investment with fully 64% having a favorable view. Institutional investors as a class are divided about Russian investment prospects. 49% characterize the investment climate as favorable, while 42% consider it unfavorable.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.