World Congress Journal
News from the IPI World Congress and 58th General Assembly at Helsinki
Russia: A bear at the doorstep?
year’s short war in Georgia, followed by this winter’s shutdown of
Europe’s gas supply through Ukraine, have left many asking: is Russia’s
recent assertiveness a sign of worse to come?
Three experts representing a spectrum of opinions tackled this question – the Economist’s
Edward Lucas; Brahma Chellaney, a professor at the New Delhi Centre for
Policy Research; and Anatoly Adamishin, a former Russian ambassador to
Britain. Lending a sense of cable news energy and immediacy was
moderator, CNN anchor Jim Clancy. They spoke on 7 June at the IPI World
Congress and 58th General Assembly in Helsinki, in the session “The
Bear at the Doorstep – Russia’s Resurgence and the Start of a New Cold
“Who’s in charge of Russia?” fired Clancy at Adamishin
with his first question- the former diplomat responding to dispel the
idea that Russian democracy extends no further than the Kremlin’s top
A burgeoning and corrupt bureaucracy, coupled with
national apathy, lie at the heart of the problem, Adamishin said.
“Russia is a democratic country without democracy.”
“Please relax,” he said. “The bear is less belligerent than one may judge from its growling.”
on the other hand, fears that a new form of Cold War has already begun,
with Chellaney tempering the debate by saying that a return to past
tensions is still avoidable.
Comments and questions from the
journalists in Finlandia Hall broached tinderbox topics such as the
South Caucasus, Kremlin-backed moves to form an international natural
gas cartel similar to OPEC, and press freedom.
All the panelists
agreed that Russian press freedom has regressed sharply since the
1990s, with Adamishin pointing to Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry
Muratov’s acceptance speech of the IPI Free Media Pioneer Award as all
the indication anyone needs as to the state of media freedom in Russia.
“Some of my friends are dead because they pushed too hard for press freedom [in Russia],” added Lucas.