IRI Eurasia Director Testifies on the Future of Democracy in Russia

Washington, DC – Stephen B. Nix, regional program director for Eurasia at IRI, testified today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Lugar (IN). Nix’s testimony focused on the difficulties facing democratic groups in Russia and the need for a continued commitment by the United States to support efforts to strengthen democratic parties.

“The Russian Federation today is a country in which the rights of citizens to participate in government through free and fair elections, independent media, and civic activism are being severely curtailed… Mr. Putin has periodically introduced terms in which to couch these alarming trends – ‘dictatorship of the law,’ and ‘managed democracy.’  My friends and colleagues in Russia, however, are now using a new term: bureaucratic dictatorship,” Nix testified.

Later in his testimony Nix said, “This is not a government that the Russian people deserve.  This is not a government that the Russian people should tolerate.  I say this because I firmly believe that our friends, the Russian people, are capable of creating a democracy that offers them the stability, the prosperity, and the freedom they so richly deserve.”

Since beginning its work in Russia in 1991, IRI has provided training to thousands of political party activists, elected officials at the national, regional and local levels, and civic organizations throughout Russia.  This work included cooperation with democratic activists through several crucial periods in the country’s transition to democracy, including the 1993 parliamentary elections, 1995 and 1999 State Duma elections, 1996 presidential elections, and the 1996-1997 gubernatorial elections.  IRI conducted election observation missions for both the 1995 and 1999 State Duma elections and the 1996 and 2000 presidential election.  In recent years, IRI has shifted its focus to the long-term development of Russia’s political institutions, emphasizing the importance of grassroots party building and strong civic organizations.

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