Across the world, from the Philippines to Hungary to Venezuela, nations have embraced authoritarian rule in recent years, in many cases with significant popular support. What is the enduring appeal of authoritarianism, what has the pandemic done to accelerate its growth, and how susceptible is the United States to its sway? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to investigate the allure of these anti-democratic movements and to shed light on their unlikely champions.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of the Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."
Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.
Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (a little over) 60 Seconds:
The Biden administration announced its first sanctions. How will it affect US-Russia relations?
Not very much. About as bad as they were under the Trump administration, even though Trump personally wanted to be aligned with Putin, the administration was not. This is the same approach on sanctions as we've seen from the European Union, they could go a lot harder. It's not sector level. It's not major state enterprises. It's a few Russian officials that were involved in the chemical program for Russia. And at the end of the day, the Russians are annoyed, but they're not going to hit back. That's that. Okay.
Myanmar's protests are getting more violent. Will it get worse and how will end?
It's hard to imagine it not getting worse. I mean, now you see dozens getting killed in one day. The fact is that Aung San Suu Kyi would be allowed back in government eventually, probably, if that meant that the military still was able to control the elections. I can't see her being willing to do that and provide the legitimacy. And so, as a consequence, you kind of have a standoff where they can push the elections earlier, but it's going to be unfree and unfair. And that means that Myanmar is going to still be run by the military. And the Chinese government is more than happy with that. You are starting to see some other governments in the region trying to act as conduits for discussion to see if a compromise can be worked out because clearly the violence is troubling. Hard to see it happening. So again, this is going to get uglier before it gets better.
What's the story with former French President Nicholas Sarkozy going to jail?
Well, he has a three-year sentence, two of which has been suspended, but one is going to be house arrest. First time you've seen that from a former French president, and for corruption for influence peddling. And so, that's a pretty big precedent in France. We've already seen it, of course in Italy with Berlusconi. Big question is, do we see it in the United States? People will be talking about that, no question.