Nemtsov thumbs his Nose at Putin

Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs:

Contrary to popular belief, not all Soviet bloc countries were one-party states. Some had “multiparty” systems, with the Communists formally sharing power with other political groups: People’s Party and Freedom Party in Czechoslovakia, Democratic Party and United People’s Party in Poland, the Christian Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Party in East Germany. Indeed, the Socialist Unity Party did not even have an overall majority in the East German “parliament”, which was for years chaired by CDU politician Gerald Goetting. Needless to say, all “non-communist” parties faithfully towed their governments’ (and Moscow’s) line, for all intents and purposes serving as subsidiaries of the regime.

The system created by Vladimir Putin, who once served in East Germany, remarkably resembles this model. The Russian Duma comprises four parties: Mr. Putin’s United Russia (which controls 70 percent of seats) is joined by three “opposition” groups that have passed through the filters of the justice ministry and the central electoral commission. The presence of these groups that occasionally oppose government initiatives (deputies from Fair Russia apparently voted against the 2010 budget after a personal request from Mr. Putin) is meant to distinguish Russia’s legislature from its counterparts in North Korea or Turkmenistan. When it comes to issues sensitive to the Kremlin, however, the “parliamentary opposition” drops all pretenses, as was the case with the Duma’s 447 to 0 vote to recognize the “independence” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – a decision not only contrary to international law, but dangerous as an example to Russia’s own separatist-minded Caucasus regions.

The real opposition in Russia does not sit in the rubber-stamp “parliament” and has no access to state-controlled television. Its strength lies in the thousands of supporters willing to risk comfort and safety by openly protesting the authoritarian government. After the 12,000-strong anti-Putin rally in Kaliningrad in late January, the opposition held similar gatherings in Irkutsk, Archangel and Penza, and is now planning a nationwide protest for March 20. If the first two months are anything to go by, 2010 will be the year when anti-Putin forces go on the political offensive.

The Kremlin is understandably worried. Mass protests across Russia’s 11 time zones will seriously damage the regime’s image of “strength” and “popularity”. All stops are being pulled in an effort to disrupt opposition plans. Apart from the usual administrative methods, such as harassing activists and denying access to planned protest sites, the government decided to act through its satellites. Last week three “opposition” parties – the Communists, Fair Russia and Patriots of Russia – sent simultaneous directives to their regional affiliates prohibiting participation in the March 20 rallies organized by Solidarity, Russia’s leading pro-democracy coalition. The phrasing left the impression that the statements were drafted in the same Kremlin office: “prevent the participation… of charlatans and political crooks” (Communist Party), “alliance with the ‘young reformers’ of the 1990s… is impossible” (Patriots of Russia), “we do not share the ideology and methods of… [Solidarity leader] Boris Nemtsov” (Fair Russia). While unlikely to sabotage nationwide protests (regional party activists often act independently from the Moscow leadership), this desperate act shows the true nature of Russia’s pro-Kremlin “opposition”.

Last week, days after hosting the official delegation from the Russian Duma, members of the U.S. Congress welcomed Solidarity leader Boris Nemtsov. In his discussions with Reps. Howard Berman and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Price, Sens. John McCain, Mark Begich and Roger Wicker, Mr. Nemtsov presented an uncensored view of the situation in Russia and the rising tide of anti-government protests. Kremlin propagandists would have the outside world believe that its puppet “parliament” and its sanctioned “opposition” parties represent the full spectrum of views in Russian society. The Solidarity leader’s meetings on Capitol Hill are proof that the world knows better.

5 responses to “Nemtsov thumbs his Nose at Putin

  1. Russians will not support liberals in the next 20 years (whose common nickname in Russia is “liberasts”, as a mixture of liberal and pederast) because Russians remember what “liberasts” did with their country in early 90s of the last century. So, no chance for Nemtsov or Kasparov. As Mark Adomanis writes in his recent article “Vladimir Putin isn’t going anywhere, or: Boris Nemtsov is a hack and a moron” http://trueslant.com/markadomanis/2010/03/08/vladimir-putin-isnt-going-anywhere-or-boris-nemtsov-is-a-hack-and-a-moron/,
    “At the moment, Putin has a base of support in society that absolutely dwarfs the tiny and ill-organized ranks of liberals. Perhaps this will change in the near future, more likely it will not. But what is absolutely obvious to any objective observer is that a few small and scattered protests overwhelmingly centered on local economic issues are not going to overturn the Russian state.”
    and
    “Even now I can hear the calls emanating from the Weekly Standard’s editorial offices of “Don’t deal with Putin, his people will overthrow him! Any cooperation we offer will merely strengthen the hand of a collapsing regime!’ In fact, this will probably be the headline of Gary Kasparov’s next op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Regardless of who makes such an argument, it is nonsense. Regardless of what you think of them, Putin and his regime aren’t going anywhere for a very long time. Is this good or bad? It doesn’t matter, it just is. “

  2. You got me Alex, I’m paid by the Kremlin.

    Seriously though, why even bother with such a tired, boring, and utterly meaningless insult? Surely you can think of something more interesting?

    • Kremlin must fire you, your expertise and arguments are so low, they don’t even attract any comments.

      I commented only because have some free time and this is my hobby… but seriously, I know it’s hard to attract skilled people to mafia structures but your employer must try harder really.

    • Oh hello Mark,

      Your understanding of the situation between Russia and its former imperial possessions is somewhat lacking.

      As is your understanding of the August war, if you actually bothered to read in its entirety the IFFC report, you would note that it states that Georgia did over react to multiple violent armed aggressions and infringements of its of sovereignty, but that it should have “shown restraint”.

      Having actually been in Georgia at the time, and witnessed one of the incidents of separatists launching mortar and artillery attacks on a Georgian controlled village, I suggest you do some more research.

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