# Posted 10:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
PUTIN IS A THREAT BECAUSE HE IS A DICTATOR: Along with Jim Goldgeier of GWU, my colleague Mike McFaul explains why Russian freedom matters for American security
There will always be so-called realists who argue that democracy is a secondary priority for American foreign policy in dealing with major powers such as Russia. Forget about the internal politics, they say, and just engage these countries on major strategic interests, such as nonproliferation or energy security. But how a country defines "strategic interest" depends on its regime; democracies have one set of definitions, autocracies another...
But during the same week that the Kremlin backed [Belarussian dictator Aleksandr] Lukashenko, denied [US investor William] Browder his visa and was accused of sharing intelligence with Iraq, the Putin government also froze the bank accounts of Open Russia, the first major Russian foundation to support the development of genuine civil society. At the same time, Kremlin loyalists in the parliament introduced legislation to give appointed governors broad powers over popularly elected mayors. And Marina Litvinovich -- a spokeswoman for democratic activist Garry Kasparov -- was brutally beaten, in what Russian human rights groups consider a grim warning to those who would challenge the Russian government.
Let's stop pretending that Russia's deteriorating domestic politics are unrelated to Russia's increasingly antagonistic and anti-American foreign policies. The same autocratic regime is responsible for both.
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