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Post What Would a "Healthy Political Opposition" in Russia Look Like?
Created by John Eipper on 01/17/13 5:00 AM

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What Would a "Healthy Political Opposition" in Russia Look Like? (Gilbert Doctorow, Belgium, 01/17/13 5:00 am)

In answer to JE's question, "what would a healthy political opposition in Russia look like?" (16 January), I return first to my basic point of the day before, namely that there is a healthy opposition in the form of the three loyal opposition parties which together absorb the approximately 50% of the Russian voting population which is Communist-minded: meaning in favor of heavy state intervention in the economy, in favor of strongly defended state sovereignty, in favor of a very extensive social security net for the general population.

However, this opposition to United Russia's right-of-center, pro-market policies receives zero attention in the media of the "international community." For purely self-serving reasons, in the hope of helping to bring to power another weak and preferably besotted Russian leader à la Yeltsin, the US Government and media focus all attention on the 3% of the Russian population that demonstrates against the Putin "regime" on behalf of self-proclaimed "democrats" (yes, in response to Istvan Simon, I use inverted commas intentionally)--people like Navalny, about whom they know nothing except that he is anti-Putin. Then there are the loudmouths whom the US backs, though they have lost what popularity they once had among these 3%, people like former deputy premier, former governor of Nizhny Novgorod Boris Nemtsov, or the former world chess champion, current member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, Gary Kasparov. Most of these self-proclaimed "democrats" share a lack of scruples and possess personality types that suggest they would be true dictatorial monsters if power came their way.

If I may speak of what Russia needs in terms of an opposition, it is genuine political parties built from the ground up, not the top down, because at present there are none. This is especially evident when you look at those who organized and participated in the anti-Putin demonstrations last year and this spring. They are bound together by nothing more than sedition, the will to overturn the government.

The statement that these protest leaders, pretended opposition have no ideas is not a judgment, but a description of what is prima facia true: the many would-be leaders of the protests dare not utter a positive statement of intent, lest they lose what little support they have. They are totally unable to combine forces, because they are, as a rule, egotistical Napoleons who have no tolerance for each other. They have spent no time building parties among the people, because they do not believe in hard work, wanting instead for power to fall into their hands, with American help, by bringing down the regime and seizing the opportunity amid chaos. For all these reasons, American and West European support for the "pro-democracy" forces is totally irresponsible, but on a par with support for the forcible overthrow of Assad in Syria when there is nothing in place to pick up the pieces other than al-Qaeda.

It is for these reasons that I find it very difficult to understand why the world's hegemon, the country which gains most from the status quo, is so busily at work acting as an agent of irresponsible change, with little or no reckoning of what comes next.

JE comments: Why, in Gilbert Doctorow's view, is "the West" unable to see Russia's "pro-democracy" forces through a critical lens?  Can it be so simple that "we" only care about removing the strong and resolute Putin, in favor of a malleable puppet?  Put more bluntly, is there never any place for political idealism vis à vis Russia--or Syria, for that matter?

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