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Listening to Putin's "Real" Opposition

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However we might assess recent anti-war statements by Russian human rights activists, Anna Arutunyan assures us that they are not to be confused with the "real" opposition in Russia.  For the more popular alternative party, Arutunyan suggests that we look to the The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF).

"After all," writes Arutnyan, "the Communist Party functioned more like an opposition party than the liberals ever did."  Today the CPRF "stands for nationalizing the country’s natural resources, making the country’s stabilization fund available for social betterment, guaranteeing free medicine, housing, and education, and reviving the country’s scientific and industrial standing."

For Americans who know very well how such an agenda would get you branded and run out of town quick, Arutunyan reminds us that in Russia, "the CPRF’s program is an honest reflection of what independent polls show. According to an ongoing study by the Levada Center, a steady 34-48% of respondents support a Soviet model of government -- nearly twice as many as those that support a Western-style democracy."

Arutunyan points to these features of Russian politics in order to caution Western hardliners against pushing Putin into a corner, because in the larger view he is the leader who continues to prioritize "economic integration" over "democracy" and who therefore is the force most likely to deliver what the West most wants from Russia, all gradeschool language about freedom aside.

Although Peter Charles Choharis can denounce "Kremlin Capitalism" in the August 16 Wall Street Journal, his blue-faced impatience seems not to consider the living alternative within a Russian context.  If you don't like "Kremlin Capitalism," then join the crowd in Russia.  Opt for Communism instead.

Taking a tip from Arutunyan, and getting some help from Google translate, I've been reading the freshly updated web pages of the CPRF (kprf.ru). What they demand as a consequence of the Caucasus war is nothing like a return to status quo.  Russia has established its power in Georgia, and the CPRF leadership would like to see that power translated into real changes on the ground.

First of all, Communist leadership demands immediate recognition of independence for the breakaway states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"After the Georgia regime's attack on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, the world should fully understand why Russia would recognize the independence of Ossetia and Abkhazia and enter into security alliances that would reliably guarantee the security of the long-suffering populations of these republics," says Communist Party chief  G. A. Zyuganov.
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"The aggressor should be punished," says Zyuganov.  Yet, "We are encouraged to pretend that nothing happened."

Yuri A. Kvitsinskim, first deputy chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the State Duma (KPRF faction) echoes Zyuganov's denunciation of any return to "status quo." He says the French President is acting like the Uncle you send over in your behalf, and once he gets the best deal he can, you say, oh but I wanted even more.  My Uncle doesn't speak for me.    

"Now everything should be done to break the aggressor, punish the guilty in an act of aggression, war crimes and crimes of genocide, provide effective assistance to victims, begin to rebuild South Ossetia," says Kvitsinskim.  " We must immediately recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia and take them under their protection."

As the Communist Party analysts see it, the Georgian incursion was based upon a gamble that the Geogian-led army could close the Roksky tunnel in time to prevent a Russian response.  

"Not coincidentally Western media during the first night 'didn't notice' the invasion of Georgian troops in South Ossetia and the UN Security Council refused to consider our appeal regarding aggression, ostensibly because it was too late and members of the Council very much like to sleep," grumbles Kvitsinskim.  "But the Council quickly awakened once Russian tanks went through the tunnel, and our aviation began to strike at Georgian aggressors."
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As for the threatening statements coming from the USA?

"They just need to make noise, otherwise the damage to U.S. prestige will be even more sensitive," answers Kvitsinskim.  "This is only an attempt to 'save face'."


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Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. And he is co-editor with Gail Presbey of a new collection of peace (more...)

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