Kasparov: Russia on a Downward Spiral

Garry Kasparov Source: AP/Ivan SekretarevA recent spat of outrageous breaches of the rule of law and civil rights in Russia sparked this column by United Civil Front leader and Solidarity co-leader Garry Kasparov, arguing that there is only so much farther the country can fall.

On a Downward Spiral
By Garry Kasparov
February 9, 2011

Russia’s ruling regime is moving at an ever-increasing speed on a downward spiral through every possible phase of degradation. The list of its characteristics that are typical of a perverted Orwellian reality gets longer every day.

Sergeant Artem Charukhin admitted during a court hearing that he falsified Ilya Yashin’s arrest report by order of his superiors. The next day, under threat of being immediately fired from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and with an unambiguous hint at the consequences of such announcements from the nation’s highest-ranking police officer, the sergeant began to lie and act deviously all over again.

The Investigative Committee is searching for new grounds to file a criminal case against Alexei Navalny, who continues to work to expose corruption in every echelon of the Russian government. The Justice Ministry has refused to register the Other Russia party – whose charter is copied in its entirety from the charter of the Communist Party – only on the basis that the document in question does not comply with federal law.

Black says that it is white and vice versa, without hesitation. Lying is elevated to the rank of state policy. The Justice Ministry, the Investigative Committee, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs stand openly on the side of lawlessness and citizens who dare to state their own rights and speak out against established tyranny are declared enemies of the state. The testament of Orwell’s immortal slogans “War is Peace” and “Ignorance is Strength” has become the main criteria for the trustworthiness of the Putin regime. It therefore looks quite logical for Konstantin Ernst to be awarded with the order “For Service to the Fatherland” right after the Boss visited the main department of contemporary Kremlin agitprop.

Against this backdrop, it looks distorted when certain human rights activists groan or when lawyers who’ve been fattened up by the government make threatening proclamations about the threats to law and order posed by the actions of civil activists who intrude upon the personal life of Judge Borovkova. The main principle that the Russian opposition continues to stick to is nonviolent resistance against the government. When the law doesn’t function, the only way to express your protest is to create the maximum possible amount of moral discomfort for those who have put themselves at the service of lawlessness.

Like many before him, Boris Vishnevsky noted on his Ekho Moskvy blog that the Presidential Council on Human Rights, which prides itself in having begged Medvedev for permission to carry out an independent examination of the Khodorkovsky case, holds a very inferior position. And now its mouthpiece, Mikhail Fedotov, says it doesn’t plan to ask for a pardon. Only one serious error crept into Vishnevsky’s article – the phrase “my respected Fedotov.” That is a fundamental error. Mikhail Fedotov and other such “liberal” servants prepared to serve the interests of Putin’s mafia in any situation do not, under any conditions, count as “respected” persons.

Change in the country is going to begin with change in the moral and social climate. And today it is extremely important to establish the role of the people who continue to solve their personal problems inside the system while hiding behind eloquent phrases. For now, this is not a list of people who are going to be liable to lustration in the future Russia. It is just a list of the regime’s voluntary helpers that give it legitimacy and let it preserve the outward gloss and propriety that camouflages its bandit essence.

The people who have taken on the Sisyphean task of changing the government from within need to understand that in the growing confrontation between the out-of-control regime and society they’re turning up together with plainclothes propagandists from Channel One and Judge Borovkova – with all the resulting reputational risks. A downward slope only lets you travel in one direction.

Translation by theotherrussia.org.