Thursday, July 20, 2017

Free Russia Forum Outlines What a Post-Putin Russia Must Do to Rejoin Civilized World



Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – The Free Russia Forum, a group of opposition politicians and analysts, says that a post-Putin Russia can only rejoin the civilized world if it operates under the principles of the primacy of law in all spheres of life.  Otherwise, it will be “impossible” to build a law-based state and rejoin the civilized world.

            In an appeal released on Tuesday and signed by among others Gary Kasparov, Vladislav Inozemtsev, Aleksandr Morozov, Andrey Piontkovsky, Igor Eidman, Igor Chubais and Andrey Illarionov, the authors outline a checklist that represents at the same time an indictment of the Putin regime (forumfreerussia.org/article.asp?aid=1779 and echo.msk.ru/blog/aillar/2021882-echo/).
                A post-Putin Russia will need to take the following foreign policy steps in order to become again part of the civilized, law-based world, they say:


  • “Immediately end military aggression against sovereign states and withdraw units of the Russian armed forces from all occupied territories” in Georgia and Ukraine “according to the norms of international law.”



  • “Immediately end military, financial, diplomatic and other support to separatist forces and movements operating on the territory of foreign states, including states of the former Soviet Union.”



  • “Recognize as legally nullified all acts connected with the seizure from Ukraine and the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the recognition of ‘statehood’ of the so-called ‘Republic of Abkhazia’ and ‘Republic of South Ossetia’ and also with the informal legitimation of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics.’”



  • “Hold criminally responsible all persons guilty of the commission of military crimes on these territories.”



  • “Introduce into the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation provisions defining punishment for the interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and their active preparation.”


            The authors say that “we are convinced that the deconstruction of the political regime which has existed in Russia without the fulfillment of these demands is impossible” and “invite all who consider the existence of the Putin regime fatal for Russia and shameful for its citizens and who seek to offer a worthy alternative to join in support of this declaration.”

Nearly Two-Thirds of Russians Now Favor Statues Honoring Stalin and Oppose Memorials to His Crimes



Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – Sixty-two percent of Russians say that statues and other memorials should be put up in Russian cities to remind about “the successes of Joseph Stalin,” a new VTsIOM poll says; but at the same time, 65 percent of them are opposed to any monuments that recall his crimes.

            Young people under the age of 24 are somewhat more favorably inclined to the erection of Stalin memorials (77 percent) than the average for all Russians, with pensioners who may have lived under the Russian dictator also just above the average (63 percent). It is the middle-aged who oppose such moves (rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/597057059a79472210e669c9?from=main).

                Both those who favor Stalin statues and those opposed say they are defending historical truth. Fifty seven percent of those favoring erecting statues in his honor say that “people must know the entire truth,” while 39 percent of those who want memorials to his victim make the same argument, VTsIOM reports.

Putin’s Nomenklatura Far More Isolated from Russian People than Brezhnev’s Was, Preobrazhensky Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – When Rostec head Sergey Chermezov paid for Putin’s and Medvedev’s ice cream cones with a 5,000-ruble (90 US dollar) bill and reports swirled about a two million US dollar elite wedding, the growing gulf between the Kremlin leader’s “nomenklatura” and the rest of the population was on full view, Ivan Preobrazhensky says.

            Indeed, in a comment for Deutsche Welle, the Russian historian says that the divide separating Putin’s entourage and the increasingly impoverished Russian people is now far larger than was the case with the nomenklatura in Soviet times (dw.com/ru/комментарий-три-толстяка-в-очереди-за-мороженым/a-39748392).

            “The Russian ruling class,” Preobrazhensky continues, “having taken under its control almost all the resources in the country over the course of recent years has finally shifted into another reality having lost the chance to find a common understanding with the millions of Russians who now live in poverty.”

            This ruling class, just like its Soviet predecessors, includes not just the top one percent but thousands of others who work for them and who are rewarded above all “for political loyalty” just as was the case with its predecessor in the USSR. And it is hated by the rest of society for exactly the same reasons.

            Indeed, the historian suggests, Russians today have even more reason to hate the rulers because in Soviet times, they were guaranteed freely many things, admittedly of a very low quality, that now they have to pay for, something that means their poverty is more immediately and directly felt.

            Formally, of course, Russia remains “a social state,” given that 65 percent of the population receives government support.  But Russians do not receive these things equally: those on top receive far more than those in the increasingly numerous poor because the people on top are in a position to ensure that they themselves get taken care of first.

            “Judging from everything,” Preobrazhensky says, “many citizens still do not recognize the fact of the appearance of a new nomenklatura. But this will certainly happen and in the not distant future. And again, as at the end of the 1980s, the issue of ‘social equalization’ will inevitably appear on the agenda.”

            And the more those at the top act as if their benefits are theirs by rights, he says, “the greatre are the chances that the poor will seek justice by cutting off their heads.”  Paying for ice cream with a large bill or having a wedding costing thousands of times the average salary of Russians is a perfect way to make that outcome more likely.