EDITORIAL: OMG! Are we Actually Winning?


OMG! Are we Actually Winning?

This blog experienced a watershed moment after Russia’s invasion of Georgia, when we suddenly became conventional wisdom after having been accused of extremism for several years.  Actually, the real turning point had been marked a bit earlier, when as the Russian stock market began to sputter we were cited by the prestigious mainstream publication the New York Review of Books.

It’s tempting to think that now as the year draws to a close we may be experiencing a second watershed moment, in which our policies actually begin to score tactical victories in battle against the Kremlin.  Our first great victory came when we drove the story of Oleg Kozlovsky into the mainstream press, winning not only major news stories in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune but also a precious op-ed column for Kozlovsky in the Post, which then blossomed into a major human rights award and blogging on the Huffington Post blog.  In the wake of this coverage, Kozlovsky’s illegal internment in the Russian army was reversed.

And now, we’ve seen a stunning series of further sharp raps on the Kremlin’s boney knuckles.

  • A bill that had been moving through the Russian Duma to shut down critical websites as “extremist” was pulled back.
  • After seeking to hide the Politkovskaya murder trial from the public, the court was forced to reverse itself after a defiant juror exposed the dishonest justification it had made for its order.
  • Khodorkovsky associate Vasily Alexanyan was released from prison after mass outcry over his barbaric persecution.  An online petition calling for similar justice for another Khodorkovsky minion, Svetlana Bakhmina, drew nearly 100,000 signatures of support.
  • Kremlin critic Andrei Piotkovsky was acquitted on all charges of extremism after flouting the Kremlin’s power by returning to Russia to confront the charges.
  • In a recent editorial, we linked to a number of reports showing voices being raised against the Putin regime in the Russian media, focussing on a moment of opportunity caused by the regime’s helpless response to the economic crisis.  Even President-Elect Barack Obama got in on the wave, issuing a stern rebuke of Russia’s aggressio in Georiga and brutally undercutting the Kremlin’s attempt to point the finger of blame at Georgia in the Western press based on OSCE leaks.

Yikes! Are we actually winning?

No, we’re not.  Our editorial also reported on another bold attack on the Kremlin, by the leading Russian human rights organization Memorial — which was organizing a boycott of a sham NGO conference the Kremlin was orchestrating to create the illusion of civil society.  But it also noted that no sooner had Memorial launched this effort than its offices were raided by a gang of the Kremlin’s masked thugs and shut down indefinitely.  Nobody rushed to the aid of Memorial in its hour of need.  And though the Internet bill has been temporarily defeated, for all we know it was pulled back because the Kremlin decided it was not brutal enough.  A bill to remove the right to trial by jury for those accused of seeking to “overthrow” the Putin regime continues to sail merrily through the legislative process.

But the events are still significant. They don’t mean we are winning, but they do mean we could be winning if a concerted effort was made both within and without Russia to defy the clan of KGB spies now roosting in the Kremlin.  They have been betrayed as weak and utterly clueless when faced with economic setbacks, and the opportunity is clearly there for a courageous movement to unseat them.

They mean that what we are doing is not in vain.

4 responses to “EDITORIAL: OMG! Are we Actually Winning?

  1. LR asks: Yikes! Are we actually winning?
    Interesting! Piontkovsky answers:

    Many analysts, especially in the West, ask: aren’t these two victories – in the case of Politkovskaya’s murderers and in the case of Piontkovsky’s books – evidence or prescience of thaw in Russia?

    Yes, they are – but not a thaw from above, that you heard for almost a year from “liberal heir” advocates.

    It’s a thaw from below, initiated not by heir Medvedev, but by laborer Kolesov [jury foreman in Politkovskaya trial] and by Philology PhDs – Smirnov, Kukushkina, Savelova. These are the people who did their job honestly.

    But “heir” wasn’t allowed and he couldn’t commute Svetlana Bahmina – although his own PR department kindly asked him about it.

    Government’s sadism towards Bahmina and Aleksanian is clinical and makes you wonder about psychological health of people that are running a nuclear superpower…

    2009 will be a year when more and more people will refuse to play by the rules of KGB thugs and thieves. And then the powers will face a dilemma – whether to start mass repressions or belated thaw from above.

    (as usually, all errors in translation are mine and corrections are welcome)

  2. If you think a small blog is actually doing anything to Russia… you’re really delusional.


    You have a big mouth and a very small brain. You should think a little more before you speak, and you’ll look less a fool. The “we” refers not just to us but all those who are fighting against the Kremlin. This little blog, however, made Oleg Kozlovsky a major world figure all by itself and quite possibly kept him out of dedovshina, ultimately netting him a major human rights award handed over by Sigorney Weaver. What have YOU accomplished, nimrod?

  3. If the dark masters of the Kremlin really want Oleg dead he’d be dead the Cheka has always been very good at assassination.

    Oleg Kozlovsky isnt even on their radar he’s a typical student activist type. A spoiled middle-class kid who wants to rebel against something, he has no real commitment to the ‘cause’ he’ll likely drop his ‘racialism’ after a few years then become a civil servant just like his forbears in the 68 generation.


    He’s not typical, that is why the Kremlin illegally drafted him into the army. We didn’t say “dead” we said “DEDovschina” — do you understand the difference? Oleg had a column in the Washington Post and got a human rights award from Signourney Weaver. Name one other student activist who did that. The whole point is that the Kremlin had its mind changed for it. It wanted to go to Tbilisi, but couldn’t, it wanted to crush Kozlovsky but didn’t. We can win.

  4. Pingback: Pajamas Media » Standing Up to Putin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s