Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Russia May Face a Revolution or a Putsch but Not a Maidan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 21 – Lenin famously dismissed the German social democrats as incapable of making a revolution because he said they would obediently wait in line to buy a Platzkarte when ordered to seize a railway station. Now, his words apparently should be updated about the unlikelihood that Russians may make a Maidan anytime soon.

            That is because, as Viktor Rezunkov notes in a commentary for Radio Svoboda, many of them appear to be waiting for a leader to emerge to make something happen rather than acting on their own as the Ukrainians did in the case of the Revolution of Dignity three years ago when the leaders emerged only after the people moved (

            Rezunkov surveys several of the nationalist groups on the Russian far right who are “impatiently waiting for the appearance in Russia of an adequate and worthy leader whom they can follow.”  These people see Russia’s current situation resembling that of the country between 1905 and 1917, a revolutionary situation in which only later did revolutionary leaders emerge.

            The powers that be in Moscow, these radicals believe “have blocked” all “non-revolutionary paths of resolving the existing political situation.” That is because there are as yet no leaders capable of leading the Russian people against the current regime, these people suggest, according to the Svoboda journalist.

            Another factor restraining the rise of such a movement, they say, is that in contrast to the beginning of the 20th century, Russian liberals are not partisans of the kind of terrorist acts that could bring down the system by elevating radical leaders – although Aleksandr Verkhovsky of SOVA says that could change if the liberals again conclude there is no other way.

              “Those who hope for normal political life,” the SOVA analyst continues, “typically do not like any extreme actions. In Russia, there is still strong from the times of perestroika a culture of opposition to political force. But how stable that is,” he says, he “doesn’t know.  It is possible that the situation will change for the worst.”

            But both the analyst and the leaders of the radical right in Russia are clear: even those who support a Russian Maidan do not see it emerging in the way it did in Ukraine, as a mass protest against the government, unless and until new leaders emerge who are capable of leading and directing them.

            In short, although Rezunkov and the others do not say so, Russia may face a revolution or even another putsch; but the nature of Russian society is such that it is unlikely to see a Ukrainian-style Maidan, a movement arising from the people rather than organized by this or that elite group.

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