[International Herald Tribune, France]

[Click Here for More Cartoons]



Russia Opposition Must ‘Learn to Swim’ – Not Write to U.S. State Department (Moskovskij Komsomolets, Russia)


“Why agonize, reason our ‘regime-fighters,’ if there is an easier way? One can simply sit down at a desk and pen a missive to the U.S. Congress or American State Department: ‘Russian official X is scum through-and-through, and a sworn enemy of democracy. Please add him to the [Magnitsky] black list. Signed, a loyal supporter of Russian democracy Y.’”


By Mikhail Rostovsky



Translated By Anastassia Tapsieva


July 8, 2012


Russia - Moskovskij Komsomolets - Original Article (Russian)

Sergei Magnitsky: His death in a Russian prison, after implicating top officials in a scheme to defraud the government, is widely regarded as a murder-cover-up in the West. Moscow is warning the if the U.S. Congress passes the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act as punishment, Russia will react in kind against Americans. With members of the Russian opposition now suggesting names to be added to the 'Magnitsky list' of officials that the U.S. State Department should target, the issue's impact on Russian politics is snowballing.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Calls for Russia to probe human rights lawyer's death, Sept. 16, 2011, 00:03:01RealVideo

I want to share one of my proudest childhood memories with you. In my last year of kindergarten, our class was led to the pool to take swimming lessons. This is how we were taught to dive: the instructor threw a small plastic ring into the pool, which sank to the bottom, and we had to dive in and pick it up. But I wasn’t having it. So I came up with a trick: I’d pick up the ring from the bottom of the pool with my toes, and, posing as a great diver, hand it to the instructor. Back then, my trick worked. But there was a catch: I only learned to swim at age fifteen on the Black Sea. And I still don’t know how to dive.


Why should I remember this now? Because my experience picking up rings with my toes is being used by people as respectable as Russia’s liberal opposition.


How do oppositions function in other self-respecting countries? They try hard to convince their own populations that something is amiss in the current government. It’s not for nothing that the great poet Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote back in 1925, “We Soviets have our own pride: we look down our noses at the bourgeoisie.”


In fact our liberal opposition no longer looks down on the bourgeoisie: they don’t want to offend the pillars of the market economy! But even the methods of fighting like the “bourgeois” are alien to them. They would rather wear themselves out, trying to convince a skeptical public that they are the only ones worthy of support.


Why agonize, reason our “regime-fighters,” if there is an easier way? One can simply sit down at a desk and pen a missive to the U.S. Congress or American State Department: “Russian official X is scum through-and-through, and a sworn enemy of democracy. Please add him to the [Magnitsky] black list. Signed, a loyal supporter of Russian democracy Y.”


Even people who could without exaggeration or sarcasm be called the conscience of the nation have succumbed to a belief in the miracle-working power of Ostap Bender’s slogan, “The foreigners will help us!”


For instance, this is what a human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, whom I deeply respect, wrote about Duma members who introduced the harsh law tightening regulations on non-profits,


“This law was named after six people. And so I fully intend to petition the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, and European Parliament to include those six people on the Magnitsky list. They have violated the rule of law. My second blood-thirsty idea is to find out who plans to vote for this law and release their names on the Internet. Then we will allow anyone so inclined to express their opinions about such people. All of this reminds me of those great lines from a song by Alexander Galich about the vote to exclude Pasternak from the Writers Union, ‘We will remember by name all those who raised their hands.' So let it be known to those who raise their hands that their day of reckoning is near.”


On a personal level, I can easily understand this line of reasoning. In kindergarten, it was my fear of the unknown, laziness, and the desire to cheat that got in the way of my diving. Our liberal opposition would be happy to play by the rules and dive. But what if there are officials with tridents, nets, and other devices lurking at the bottom of the pool?



The desire to use the U.S. Congress as a weapon in Russia’s domestic political struggle is largely a gesture of desperation on the part of our opposition. It is a recognition that all other methods have been tried and failed. But I clearly feel a tinge of schadenfreude in all this: now let us see our enemies jump and weave as if on a hot skillet!


Taken together, all of this leaves me with a very sad feeling. I understand that in politics, one has to hit the opponent so as to inflict the maximum pain. But can one hit an opponent in the crotch and still consider himself a decent human being?


I suppose the answer might be that those in power began kicking the crotch of the opposition first. That is a questionable thesis. But even if we accept this polemic as the truth, where does that leave us? Where the opposition is no better than the powers that be?

Posted by Worldmeets.US


And if so, why does our country need such an opposition? Perhaps Russia needs a new opposition - a political power consisting of people capable of solving their own problems instead of pleading for help from the State Department.


My respect for Lyudmila Alexeyeva has not diminished one iota. She is not a politician, but an activist fighting to keep a very deserving organization - The Moscow Helsinki Group - alive. But I cannot bring myself to sympathize with our “clean” politicians, who giddily compile “black lists” for the U.S. State Department.


Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: The Magnitsky List, America’s ‘Secret’ Weapon!
Kommersant, Russia: U.S. Magnitsky Act to Trigger 'Harsh Backlash'
Voice of Russia, Russia: Russian Opposition Wants Magnitsky List Expanded
Gazeta, Russia: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys: Russia Today is the Latter
Gazeta, Russia: America is Neither Friend Nor Foe
MK, Russia: Obama's ‘Hope’ Keeps Putin from ‘Window on Paradise’



Like Worldmeets.US on Facebook  


I understand that these people, out of sheer inertia, will be considered members of our liberal opposition for a long time to come. The new opposition will not materialize, as if by magic, overnight. But the country’s interests demand a generational shift in our opposition ranks.


Perhaps I am just a hopeless romantic who isn’t keeping up. Perhaps I simply misunderstand the term “self-respect.” Nevertheless, I am convinced: if one wants to become a champion swimmer, you must learn to dive and not “pick up the rings with your toes.” If you want to be a worthy contender for the leadership of Russia, learn to persuade your fellow citizens you are right, rather than sending emotive letters to the U.S. State Department.




opinions powered by SendLove.to
blog comments powered by Disqus









































[Posted by Worldmeets.US July 15, 10:39pm]




Bookmark and Share