Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Russian Revolution?

Paul Goble has written the above article which he entitles “Moscow’s Latest Moves Make Revolution ‘Inevitable’ But Not Necessarily Soon, Activist Says.”

The “activist” Goble is referring to is Yevgeny Ikhlov and the assumption Mr Ikhlov is making is that the Putin persecution of a political rival will not be tolerated in Russia that that Putin’s persistence in this persecution will spell his doom. The political rival is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil tycoon. Khodorkovsky has been an outspoken political opponent of Putin and has funded political opposition. Now he is being tried and many think the charges are trumped up by Putin.

Goble writes, “Moscow’s decision to bring Mikhail Khodorkovsky to trial again is a clear indication that Russia will experience yet another revolution because this persecution of the former oligarch will “bury” any hopes among the liberal intelligentsia for “the peaceful evolution of the regime,” according to a leading democracy activist.”

Ikhlov believes that if Putin insists on trying Khodorkovsky, “. . . the liberal intelligentsia which now devotes all its efforts” against a revolutionary approach “will stop this hopeless enterprise. . . Instead . . . there will begin ‘the formation of pro-revolutionary slogans of the type ‘better to stand up once than to spend all one’s life on one’s knees.’” Once that happens, that means “the revolution will take place,” he argues, and in the best case, it will occur peacefully and without bloodshed in the name of the defense of human rights.

“If it happens soon, the human rights campaigner says, then “the revolution will free Khodorkovsky. And possibly, in its honeymoon period, he will play the role of a Russian Marquis de Lafayette,” overseeing what the current regime fears most: “a new perestroika,” “the self-organization of civil society,” and “a common idea of reform.”

Does sufficient opposition to Putin exist in present-Day Russia? Ikhlov thinks so: “. . . inside the ruling group there is a serious undercover struggle which has led even to the stage of the preparation of latent palace coups.’

Also, “behind the fa├žade of united state power . . . there are at least five different [anti-Putin groups] “the power vertical, the ‘Chekists,’ the regional barons, the mid-ranks of the siloviki, and the billionaires . . .”

“Under certain conditions, the [Putin regime] . . could simply collapse or be swept from the scene; under others, this process could take place through a political roundtable; and under others, it could even take the form of the gradual conquest of power through elections, something that might not even look like a revolution.

But breaking out of Russia’s authoritarian system will be a revolutionary step, Ikhlov argues, and he suggests that there will need to be arrangements like those in Portugal after the end of Salazar’s fascist regime or even some kind of “Supreme Revolutionary Committee” or “Council of Public Vigilance” to ensure the transition."

None of that will be easy to do because there is no one blueprint for making the change, and Ikhlov implies. . . .”


Is Khordorkovsky so popular in Russia that an Ikholov revolution will occur if he is convicted? Perhaps. The author of an AFP article ( ) writes, “Critics have said the new trial is aimed at keeping Khodorkovsky in prison indefinitely and that the Kremlin orchestrated the legal assault to seize control of Yukos and eliminate him as a potential political rival.”

Khodorkovsky’s lawyers “said the defence was assembling material for an eventual appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

The implication seems to be that Putin is behaving like a kinder gentler Stalin. He isn’t having a political rival shot. He is having him tried. This political rival, however, doesn’t appear willing to go gently into that good night.

If Mikhail Kuznetsov were still reading this blog, I’d be interested in hearing why, if Russia is as content as he says it is with Putin-Authoritarianism, there is this Ikhlov talk of a revolution.

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