Hardship awaits Russian democracy

by Karin Chesebro | 11/16/93 6:00am

Vladimir Lukin, ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States, said democracy will eventually come to Russia, but not without hardship.

"We must be patient. It's not easy, but it can be done," Lukin said. "Other countries have done it ... why not Russia?"

In an eloquent speech given Thursday night in front of a full auditorium in Dartmouth Hall, Lukin, a former journalist in Prague who has served in the Soviet Foreign Ministry, the Supreme Soviet and has worked with Boris Yeltsin, said he is a "cautious optimist of Russian democratic future."

Lukin said some of the most important changes in Russia have been the establishment of democratic elections, free press, a reformed parliament, privatization and organizations promoting the "connection of people professionally, regionally and socially."

According to Lukin, democracy and economic reform are absolutely necessary and interconnected. "There can be no democracy without economic reform and no economic reform without a reformed government," he said.

The change from dictatorship to democracy will not be easy, he added. "Democracy will produce, at least in the beginning, more losers than winners," Lukin said. "Austerity, discipline and strong leadership" are necessary to implement the changes.

The implementation of a "dictatorship democracy" may be one way to facilitate the transition to democracy, Lukin said, but it could also easily become a general dictatorship working in opposition to new reforms.

Lukin said that democracy can be successful "only through mutual adjustment and public consensus."

"A clear majority [of the Russian people] are in favor of reform," he said. "We need active citizens for real democracy."

He said national security is another issue of critical importance. "[The new democrats] are not used to thinking in terms of national interest and statehood," Lukin said. "Democrats should become the chief custodians of the new Soviet statehood."

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