Staunton, September 14 – Russian emigres in the first years of Soviet power explicitly described themselves as “messengers” rather than “exiles,” as people called to testify about the moral degradation Russia was suffering under the Bolsheviks, Igor Eidman says, adding that “each new émigré wave is a unique message to the peoples who have taken it in.”
Today, the Russian commentator says, the vast majority of those leaving Russia are doing so “for political or more precisely political and esthetic reasons, simply because it has become unbearable for them to life in the atmosphere of hurrah patriotic militaristic hysteria, reactionary xenophobia and clericalism” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57D6CC5F1CE2E).
They are thus in a unique position to provide “testimony about the moral catastrophe to which Putinism has led Russia.”
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Eidman continues, “the third wave of the emigration played a major role in the struggle for human rights.” They can serve as a model for the political emigration today which “has not yet become such an influential social force” either on other countries or “even within the Russian-language diaspora.”
There are major Russian-speaking communities in many countries, including Germany, Latvia and Estonia, and “it is not surprising that the Putin powers that be are ever more actively trying to subordinate them to itself” much as the Soviets did with earlier emigration waves. And in this, the Kremlin thanks to television has had some success.
“Unfortunately,” the Russian commentator continues, “for many foreigners the word ‘Russian’ is becoming a synonym for the word ‘Putinist.’” That is something Russia’s current political emigres must fight in order to show that “there is another Russia, a land of free people” who don’t like Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea or his chauvinist approach.
Indeed, Eidman says, “the new political emigration can help the world and above all the Russian-speaking communities to understand just what the Putin regime represents. That can be is chief mission.” But “a no less important” one is to provide support to the Russian opposition movement at home.
Living beyond the borders of Russia, the emigres “are not threatened with repressions. They can use their freedom in order together with the Russian opposition to stand up against the authoritarian regime.” Some, like Garry Kasparov, are showing the way, with his March 2016 Forum of Free Russia meeting in Vilnius.
A second session of that Forum will take place in the Lithuanian capital in the middle of October, Eidman says, and he suggests that it would be a good thing “if this initiative attracted the support of emigres living in Germany, “the country with the largest Russian speaking community in the far abroad” and one that the Kremlin has sought to exploit.
Eidman says that he plans to convene another regional Forum of Free Russia in Berlin later this year, a meeting that he hopes will allow for the establishment in Germany of “a virtual ‘House of Free Russia’” to counter the “monumental Soviet-style officious ‘Russian House’ on Friedrichtstrasse.”