Kasparov as the New Yavlinksy
Grigori Yavlinsky, who undoubtedly has a good heart and an able intellect, will nonetheless go down in history as one of the most harmful Russians who ever lived. A classic “white moderate” as defined by Martin Luther King, as such more dangerous to African Americans than the KKK, Yavlinsky’s pathetic performance as leader of the Yabloko party in the Yeltsin days sucked all the oxygen out of the democracy movement, depriving it of the opportunity to gain critical mass and contend for power.
We loathe Yavlinsky, perhaps more than Vladmir Putin himself. After all, Putin never promised us a rose garden.
Thankfully, Yavlinsky has passed from the scene into well-deserved obscurity. But it seems that Garry Kasparov is eager to fill his shoes with more cold feet. Kasparov has repeatedly disappointed us with his failure to take significant direct action to challenge the Kremlin (or to step aside and support someone else willing to do so). His craven withdrawal from the presidential election was a low moment in a very meager political career. At least in the past Kasparov did do one thing Yavlinsky never could: Give good op-ed in the Western media. But now it seems, that too has gone the way of all things.
Writing in The Australian recently, Kasparov stated that Barack Obama, if elected President of the U.S.,
could get off to a good start by making it clear he does not consider the people of Russia to be the enemy of the US. As in most authoritarian states, the Putin regime does not represent most of its citizens. Kremlin propaganda works hard to present the US as Russia’s adversary. Obama could strike a blow against that image by speaking out against dictatorial leaders in Russia and across the world.
Kasparov could not be more mistaken or unhelpful. The Russian people are the enemies of the U.S., and of all people who love freedom and democracy and peace and prosperity, and they must be told so — often and loudly — for the very reason that the Putin regime precisely represents a majority of them.
One must wonder whether Kasparov remains in full possession of his faculties. Is he really unaware that Putin’s popularity exceeds 75% in opinion polls? Can he have failed to notice that the people of Russia didn’t lift a finger or raise a whisper when not only he but every other opposition candidate for both the presidency and the Duma was wiped off the ballot in the last spate of “elections”?
Have the Russian people spoken out against Putin’s sending squadrons of nuclear bombers to buzz America’s shores and terrorize its population, outraged that America was taking no such action in regard to Russia? Have they uttered a squeak of protest as Putin has repeatedly blamed the United States for the collapse of the Russian stock market, and crazily claimed that America provoked the recent hostilities in Georgia which resulted in Russia’s total repudiation by the civilized world?
How does Kasparov imagine that the ignorant denizens of Putin’s Russia will ever come to realize the peril into which they are being thrust by their KGB-dominated government unless they are challenged and confronted? It was one thing to imagine that the people of Russia were the innocent victims of the Soviet regime, when we knew no better. Our assumption that, given the chance, Russians would reject the authoritarian decisions of the selfsame KGB that helped Stalin murder more Russians than Hitler ever dreamed of doing, and laid low the mighty USSR, was a reasonable one.
But it has been disproved. Given the chance, Russians could and did blithely embrace KGB rule, totally heedless of the consequences for the people of the outside world. Indeed, Russians continue to embrace violent xenophobia and applaud the ressurection fo the cold war, the arms race and bloodthirsty Russian nationalism.