Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A possible economic rebound from authoritarian politics

Russians Bet on a Market for Dampening Dissent

"Alongside bargain retailers, cheap restaurants, debt collectors and bankruptcy lawyers, a midsize factory in Siberia is promoting a product that it hopes is just the thing for hard times. Employees here call it the “anti-democracy truck,” a modified fire truck fitted with a water cannon and designed to quell riots.

"'We look at this as a product with a market,' Vladimir N. Kazakov, the factory director, said in an interview in his office. 'We don’t mind who buys them. We would be happy to sell them to Israel, America or France.'...

"The truck is sold under the brand names Avalanche-Hurricane and... the Storm. Shrouded in steel armor, it comes standard with brick- and cobblestone-resistant window grilles, sprinklers attached to a tank of chemical irritant like pepper spray, speakers that can emit ear-splitting noise and, of course, a powerful, joystick-operated water cannon. The cannon can topple protesters from dozens of yards away...

"In Russia, the economy is doing an about-face from 6 percent growth in 2008 to an expected 2.2 percent contraction this year, according to government figures that are probably too optimistic, many economists say. With unemployment rolls swelling, protests are likely, said Yevgeny S. Gontmakher, a member of the board of the government-affiliated Institute of Contemporary Development, a research organization in Moscow. 'The social consequences will grow all this year, we can say that with certainty.'..."

What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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