Former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Yevgeny Kiselyov, a Russian journalist now working in Ukraine, were in Estonia on the occasion of the publication of their book, Without Putin, in the Estonian language.
The coming Russian elections, said Kasyanov, are not real elections but "another imitation of an important democratic institution."
Kasyanov characterized Dmitry Medvedev as "an assistant to Mr. Putin," and said there was no sign present that Medvedev could deliver the modernization about which he recently spoke in Davos.
"Corruption is the main problem in the country," said Kasyanov, corruption at a level, he said, that "has never been seen by any generation living in the country now." The former prime minister of Russia noted sadly that, in terms of corruption, Russia is now rated by international institutions "lower than some African countries."
Kasyanov called Putin’s model one of "capitalism for friends with a managed imitation of democracy." Saying that free and fair elections are the only way of changing the situation in Russia, he called upon Europe to end its practice of giving a "special ticket" to Putin, a ticket "to not implement Russians' international obligations."
"A democratic Russia has democratic obligations," said Kasyanov. He said the West’s tolerance of the Russian regime and "treating them as equals" serves to "undermine efforts of restoring democracy in Russia."
Kasyanov predicted that if the coming elections would be “imitations” like the previous elections, developments in Russia may go the way of Egypt. “We saw camels and sticks in Egypt. But in Russia you will see pistols and knives.”