Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, though frequently raising a few eyebrows when he does, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a scrum of French reporters recently that the Western model of democracy simply doesn’t exist.
“Can you tell me what it is—the Western model of democracy? France has one model of democracy, the U.S.A. has another one,” Putin said, then added his own perspective on the current state of American democracy. “A French politician told me once, ‘One cannot do anything at the elections in the U.S.A. without money—whether they are elections to the Senate or Congress, not to mention the presidential elections. There is nothing to do there without a sack of money.’ ”
Putin also took this opportunity to defend Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008. “People died as a result of the criminal action launched by President [Mikheil] Saakashvili two years ago. Russia was forced to defend the lives of its peacemakers and the citizens of South Ossetia,” the prime minister declared. “We stopped 15 to 20 km from Tbilisi. We stopped there not because we could not enter Tbilisi—we stopped because we didn’t want to do it. We didn’t want any military action at all.”