Sunday, July 5, 2020

Disintegration of Russia ‘Practically Inevitable,’ Opposition Must Focus on the Regions and Not Just Moscow, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 4 – “The disintegration of Russia is practically inevitable,” Vladimir Yakovenko says; “and the chief organizer of this disintegration is Putin. For the [Russian] opposition, this means that the center of gravity of its work must shift to the regions” which will play a decisive role in this process.

            In the past and focused almost exclusively on lifw within the ring road, the Russian commentator says, the liberal opponents of Putin and his regime have not offered the population as a whole anything all that attractive, a sharp contrast to regional politicians, activists and thinkers (

            Putin opponents shouldn’t spend their time writing “the latest program ‘How will we restructure Russia?’ It is too late for that. Putin has already ‘done so.’ Instead, people need to think about how to reorder the Far East, Siberia, Kaliningrad, the Volga, and North Caucasus and St. Petersburg with Moscow.”

            People from the capital should only aspire to be advisors to those in the regions and then only if they are asked, Yakovenko says. 

            In his drive to “zero out” limits on his terms, Putin “zeroed out” the Russian constitution which wasn’t approved even by the extra-constitutional and extra-legal he used if the real numbers are considered; and as a result of that and his other actions in the past and even since the referendum, the Kremlin leader has “zeroed out” the Russian Federation.

            It is now on course to fall apart, and Putin put it there, the commentator says.

            Today, he says, it is “more or less obvious that under Putin, there won’t be elections, there won’t be a parliament, a court system or public life. The ruins in which the opposition, journalism, and public thought elicit bitter feelings but do not give the basis for despair.” Instead, they must be a call to action.

            The notion that “’we must survive him’ is absolutely true but it isn’t enough simply because if it means simple survival, then we may not survive. In any case, not everyone.”  Consequently, those who oppose Putin must work to get rid of him and his system as soon as possible.

            That requires exposing the maximum extent possible what he is doing and calling out by name those who are his co-conspirators, Yakovenko says.  But even more important is to avoid any cooperation with the Kremlin and the structures it controls.  Everyone must recognize that working with him means working for him.

            Moreover, he continues, it is time to stop worrying about disputes within the opposition: that is what democracy is about. And it is also time to stop worrying about who is an agent of the FSB in the ranks of the opposition. The only ones who can really know who is and who isn’t, tragically, are officers of that organization.

            And the Russian opposition must point out to foreign governments that Putin is no longer a legitimate president and he does not head a legitimate government. Indeed, he and his regime have delegitimized Russia in much the same way Qaddafi and other dictators have delegitimized their countries.

            Unfortunately, Putin has a rock-solid supporter in the West, US President Donald Trump who is prepared to approve or overlook everything the Kremlin leader does. But unlike in Russia, the results of elections in the US don’t with perfect predictability guarantee the victory of the incumbent.

            If Trump loses, Putin does too; and Russia and its peoples win. 

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