Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

It's springtime -- for Putin -- and Russ-i-a

By Aussiegirl

An article in today's Washington Post discusses recent rumblings in the bowels of the Kremlin. It's spring, and a young man's fancy naturally turns to revolution - especially in Russia -- the traditional place of revolutions.

Only now, the Tsar is Putin, and the young people are looking to the Orange Revolution they just witnessed in Ukraine as their model. They are organizing under the banner of organizations such as "Pora!" (It's time!), modeled on the Ukrainian youth organization that took a lead role in organization the Kyiv demonstrations. Putin was also shaken by the recent street demonstrations of retirees and pensioners, the mainstay of his support, when his administration cut their travel allotments and free bus access.

One way of countering this emerging internal threat, which Putin and his minions fear, is to organize state-sponsored young organizations with ominous names like "Nashi" (meaning ours -- but in Russian, if you were to see a movie in which the bad guys, the Whites or the counterrevolutionaries were fighting against the Reds -- the good guys -- "Nashi" would be the good guys -- if Russians were shown battling Germans -- "Nashi" were our guys.) This Putin inspired organization, mostly composed of skinheads and hooligans, is planned as the resistance to an expected democratic style series of youth demonstrations -- they wil be delegated to go out into the crowds and crack heads -- saving the security forces having to do it. Think of them as government backed Hell's Angels at a rock concert -- you get out of line -- bash goes your head -- in the name of stability and security, of course.

Also, the recent "warnings" by Dmitri Medvedev about the dangers of a collapse of the Putin government can be seen as a not-too-subtle warning that any unrest would pose a great danger to regional stability and that any challenges to Putin's authority will be met by harsh and strict repression.

And in another of those perpetual almost comic curiosities and holdovers from the idiocies of the former communist times, the Kremlin has been reaching out to the rock music industry in an attempt to coopt them to their side. What they fear is the example in Ukraine, when virtually all of Ukraine's young and popular pop, rock, movie, and sports stars supported the Orange Revolution. I don't think a bunch of rock and punk stars are going to be much impressed with voluntarily becoming the modern equivalent of "People's Artists" -- the title conferred upon those approved artists who toed the Kremlin line, and only produced music, art or literature that met the approval of those refined arbiters of taste and culture, the appartchiks in the politburo in their fedoras and ill-fitting suits.

Obviously, in Putin's case, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. And memories of swift revolutions that bring down the powerful are causing him unrest.

Read more:

"There is an Orange spirit in Russia," said Andrei Sidelnikov, the young head of the new Russian youth group Pora! (It's Time!), which took its name from the young activists at the heart of the street protests late last year that ultimately brought Viktor Yushchenko to power in Ukraine. "We are living through a new era of street politics. Our young people are becoming more and more active. . . . They might explode when they can't take it any longer."

. . . "If we do not manage to consolidate the elites, Russia may disappear as one state," Dmitri Medvedev, the Kremlin chief of staff, said this week in a rare interview with the Russian magazine Ekspert. "The breakup of the Soviet Union will look like child's play compared to a government collapse in modern Russia."

. . .Both the Kremlin and the opposition have been creating youth groups to either foment or forestall unrest. In recent months, besides Pora!, groups with names such as Defense and Walking Without Putin have been formed to fight what they describe as an emerging dictatorship. Pro-establishment forces have formed organizations called Nashi and Eurasian Youth Union, the latter promising to "stand as human shields in the face of the Orange bulldozer."

. . ."The Kremlin became concerned, even a little hysterical, after the events in Ukraine," said Alexander Tarasov, co-director of the New Sociology and Practical Politics Center in Moscow, where he studies youth movements.

. . . But Tarasov and young activists such as Sidelnikov say they believe Nashi will contain a vanguard of hooligans who are prepared to engage in street clashes with other youth organizations.

"To withstand young radical organizations like Pora!, besides police force, you need youth groups who are just as radical but pro-government," Tarasov said. "Nashi has a clear goal. They know they must fight against those who are going to change the political regime formed under Putin. Their ideology is that everyone who is against the regime are enemies of the Motherland -- they must be fought against using force."

Nashi organizers insist they are nonviolent, but some of their rhetoric seems in conflict with such assurances.

"It is necessary to make short work of traitors," Vasily Yakemenko, one of the founders of Nashi, said in an interview with the newspaper Kommersant after the formation of Walking Without Putin.


At 12:18 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Great post!

Russia seems to have gone from a Communist system straight to a fascist one, with a mafia thrown in for good measure! The problem in Russia is that it has NEVER had a free system, and the Russians simply can`t believe that they ever will have one. If you kick one tyrant out, you have to keep that tyrant from returning-which means you have to institute repressive policies to maintain control. YOU then become the tyrant, which the next revolution must remove. It`s an endless cycle.

The Russian people need to make a leap of faith. They need to decide that they deserve better than the current thug, and they need to demand accountability. Russia has never had the rule of law, only the rule of force. Here in the West, we believe that the law is king, and men merely carry out the law. In places like Russia the law is the will of the ruler; that has to change if Russia is ever to take it`s place among the free.

The success of Russia is critical to the rest of the World, and every effort must be made to foster real reform. We simply can`t allow Russia to continue on this path. Russia can never be an ally in it`s current state, and it is too dangerous an enemy. Putin needs to go. We should support an Orange Revolution in the land of the Reds.


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