Taking a lesson from their utterly counter-productive involvement in the previous elections in fall 2004, the Russian leadership has remained demonstratively indifferent to the political battles in its most important neighboring state.
The risk of breakdown in the “winner-takes-it-all” democratic process in the second round of the elections is alarmingly high from Moscow’s perspective. Ukraine, nevertheless, has a chance to overcome the economic downturn and gain new political momentum from the elections leaving behind “Orange” illusions and acrimonious squabbles. If it settles on a recovery track, this example of functioning democracy will inevitably strengthen discontent in Russia against the self-serving political bureaucracy that has established monopoly on power, but is unable to deliver the basic service of governance. Ukrainian media may be spreading too much slander, though it grants space for every opinion; the political competition has not checked the spread of corruption –but it creates a healthy situation when no group controls the outcome and the winner is not known until the last vote is counted. Medvedev and Putin dismiss these lessons as unsuitable for Russian “stability,” but their odd duumvirate performs satisfactorily only in public relations, while the inflexible and deeply corrupt bureaucratic machine sabotages the task of modernization.