Yet more news of craven capitulation to dictatorship within Russia. The Moscow Times reports that the SPS political party founded by Boris Nemtsov, and from which he resigned shortly before publishing his White Paper attacking the Putin regime, is dissolving and surrendering to the Kremlin, with many of its members being absorbed into pro-Kremlin parties. Other Russia reports that the party’s leader, Nikita Belykh, resigned in protest against this proposal last week, and publishes an open letter to the party written by Nemtsov and White Paper co-author Vladimir Milov:
Dear friends and compatriots!
As result of recent events, the Union of Right Forces (SPS) has ceased to exist as a democratic opposition party.
Nikita Belykh’s place as the leader of the party was a guarantee that the SPS continue acting as an independent, living organism; a structure capable of conducting an independent policy, and defending liberal democratic ideas and values. Nikita Belykh courageously fought for the party.
The Kremlin’s scare tactics against representatives of Russian business has rid the Russian opposition of sources of financing. On a massive scale, the SPS was taken off [of ballots] in regional elections, and ran into unprecedented administrative and police pressure, [including] the arrest of its activists.
We are far from unconcerned about the fate of the party and its ordinary members in today’s difficult situation. One of us helped to create the party and was one of its leaders for a long time. The second planned on stepping into the party in the nearest term, being tied to it by a long ideological closeness. In this difficult minute, when the SPS party lost a leader who took the consistent position of standing up to authoritarianism, we feel personal responsibility for the future of thousands of commendable people, honest democrats who are members of the party.
Today these people wonder about the future of the SPS and of the democratic movement in Russia as a whole. We are addressing all the members of the SPS, who are not indifferent to the fate of democracy in Russia, with a call to refuse to participate in the project which would turn the party into the latest Kremlin lapdog.
A straight road has unfolded before the SPS, leading to a complete loss of political independence, a merger with the marionette faux parties of the Kremlin, like Civil Force or the Democratic Party of Russia, and the transformation of the SPS into a filial branch of the party of power under the guise of liberal democracy.
This path is disastrous for the liberal democratic concept in Russia. The existing authorities have completely trampled the fundamental values defended by the Union of Right Forces: freedom, private property, rule of law. By the efforts of these authorities, the country is ruled by lack of freedom, expropriation [of property], and lawlessness.
Those who hope to help in improving the country’s position by collaborating with authorities are committing a fatal mistake. Even if these hopes are spoken with the best intentions, there will only be one outcome: those democrats who collaborated with the authorities will first be used to “cleanse” the image of the ruling regime, and afterwards will be undoubtedly broken, induced to support the most unsavory actions by authorities, and the liberal ideas they propose will be thrown into the wastebasket. This has happened more than once before, and will happen this time as well.
We are appealing to all members of the SPS party who do not want to become accomplices in the destruction of the last liberal democratic party in Russia, and who want to continue defending freedom, with a call to not remain in a party awaiting a shameful fate as a Kremlin marionette.
We are calling on you to become participants in the process of consolidating Russia’s democratic opposition and of taking part in the creation of a single Russia-wide democratic movement, whose establishment is planned for a convention of democratic forces on December 13, 2008. Having united, Russia’s democrats are in a position to form a political power capable of properly standing up to the authoritarian political regime.
It is of utmost importance that the liberal-minded people, the highly proficient professionals, the intellectuals and businessmen that are a part of today’s SPS are adequately represented. Your help in the creation of a new democratic movement will be invaluable.
We await you in the unified democratic movement. Together we can raise the fallen banner of freedom and democracy in Russia.
Moscow, September 29th 2008.