Russia's 'managed democracy', with the all-powerful president, Vladimir Putin, dominating an allegedly overriding the rule of law, has come in for a lot of criticism in the West, as has Russia's treatment of punk group Pussy Riot and its recent anti-gay legislation - especially ahead of next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi. But many polls continue to suggest that the majority of Russians support government policies. Is Russia fundamentally undemocratic and authoritarian, or do they just do things differently? Moscow frequently accuses the West of meddling in its internal affairs. Does the West have a tendency to demonise Russia unfairly?
foreign affairs correspondent, BBC
columnist and former chief editorial writer, Independent; leading commentator on Russia, EU and US
professor of Russian and cultural theory; director, Centre for Humanities Innovation, Durham University
Edward Lucas is the international section editor at The Economist, the world’s foremost newsweekly, where he has covered the central and east European region for over 25 years. He is the author of The New Cold War (2008), a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia; Deception (2011), an investigative account of east-west espionage; and The Snowden Operation (2014), which was published as an e-book. He is a regular contributor to BBC’s Today and Newsnight, and to NPR, CNN and Sky News. Lucas is regularly cited by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 Twitterati. For many years a foreign correspondent, he was based in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Moscow and the Baltic states. His weekly column for European Voice (Brussels) has appeared since 2005; he also writes for the Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Foreign Policy and Standpoint. As well as working for The Independent, the BBC and The Sunday Times, he co-founded an English-language weekly in Tallinn, Estonia: The Baltic Independent.