Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Sunday, October 31, 2010

No First Amendment in Russia, but there is a 31st Article

Sign of an illiberal democracy? I don't think the term "illiberal democracy," apparently coined by Fareed Zakaria, is a useful term or helpful in understanding regimes. (Journalists regularly use terms in ways very different from the ways political scientists use them.) However, it gets used frequently in different ways. I think this description of events in Moscow illustrates a feature that Zakaria intended to emphasize.

2,000 Rally in Moscow, Demand Freedom of Assembly
Nearly 2,000 people gathered in central Moscow on Sunday demanding freedom of assembly in a rare sanctioned rally.

The Russian opposition protests on the 31st day of each month are a nod to the 31st Article of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right of assembly…

Uncharacteristically for such protests, there were no reports of police violence.

Popular support for vocal opposition groups is minimal in Russia, and their activities have been thwarted in regions like Moscow, where authorities ban their rallies and police regularly break up their gatherings.

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