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It is dangerous to hope for Putin's downfall - VG

It is dangerous to hope for Putin’s downfall – VG

Concern: Mark Behrendt has worked for decades in the field of human rights and democracy development in Europe and Asia.

Washington, DC (VG) Mark Berndt of Freedom House warns of the hope that the Ukraine war will end with the fall of Vladimir Putin in Russia. He thinks the situation can get worse before it gets better.

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Berndt leads Freedom House’s Eurasia Program, which has been working on human rights, democracy and political freedom since 1941.

He has worked in the field of democracy, human rights, and governance in Europe and Asia for more than twenty years.

I think it’s dangerous to hope that the Ukraine war will end with Putin’s downfall or regime change. If he feels pressure in a corner, he’s irrational and can do something crazy. I don’t want to see it, Behrendt tells VG.

It reminds us that we don’t know who or what will come after Putin.

We must find a way to convince himself and his people that he has won with honor, he says.

On the street: Behrendt meets VG at the Washington, D.C. coffee shop where Freedom House is headquartered.

– It could go wrong

Each year, Freedom House publishes a report entitled Freedom of the World that analyzes how free a country is and the rights of the people who live in it.

He says that the crisis of democracy in Russia has created a security crisis both for the Russian people and for neighboring countries.

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– Now things are going terribly in Russia. If the trend does not change, it will be a disaster for Russia, the Russian people and everyone else. It can get worse before it gets better, he says.

Putin sees democracy in his region as a threat to his rule in Russia. He says the 2014 attack was not about Ukraine being a security threat or that NATO had expanded its borders.

Concert: Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a concert last week to celebrate Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

At the beginning of the 2000s, many countries neighboring Russia wanted to move towards the West economically, but without joining Western security cooperation such as NATO.

The former Ukrainian president, pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, who was later ousted, won the elections on such a program. But when people demonstrated against Putin after the 2012 elections, Moscow turned around.

When a country like Ukraine becomes more democratic, it shows that there are alternatives in Russia as well. It is a country that everyone in Russia can see that is similar and related to them. It was exhausting and threatening to the Putin regime. In retrospect, Putin created an ideological argument about why the invasion was necessary, he said.

Former Russian: Mark Berndt lived briefly in Norway when he was younger and says he was Russian in Trondheim.

Behrendt says Putin came to power in Russia with a promise to give his people stability, security, and predictability — including heat, gas, pensions, increased living standards, and physical security.

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Now Putin is cracking down on critics of the regime and the press.

“There are cracks in this social contract, whenever young Russians die in wars, people of all ages are thrown into prison for using the word war,” Behrendt says.

Putin himself calls the war in Ukraine a “special military operation”.

When social contracts are broken, new ones are formed. We don’t know what the new look will look like. He says it could be much worse than the current situation in Russia.

Opposition: Earlier this month, Aniken Hoetfeldt met Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

afraid of democracy

Behrendt says Russian and Belarusian activists now need support. He is highly critical of private sanctions initiatives that discriminate against ordinary people from these two countries.

He says Putin is fundamentally afraid of democracy:

Putin has never tolerated betrayal. I think he understood Ukraine’s democratic aspirations as a kind of betrayal of a sense of brotherhood, says Berndt, and adds:

He cares about strength, and Russia is not strong in a world where all the rules are fair. What makes Russia strong, he says, is military power, a nuclear arsenal, and Putin’s willingness to use them.

THINKING TANK: Marc Behrendt meets VG at a coffee shop in Washington, DC

Berndt believes that the war in Ukraine shows that democracy, human rights and the rule of law are fundamental to people’s security – and asks the West to prioritize democratic action.

He also believes that there is a way out of the war without compromising Ukraine’s freedom of choice for itself.

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– I think a lot now depends on Putin. As he says, I think he has a practical side.

– There are compromises that can be made. It’s about where to put the missiles or the troops. It is about creating a security system that Russia does not consider a threat, but at the same time gives countries like Ukraine and Georgia security. He says they don’t have that day.