Monday, September 10, 2018

Only Real Opposition Political Force in Russia Today is the Navalny Movement, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 10 – Aleksey Navalny and his organization, despite his detention and that of his key staffers in advance of September 9, achieved a major success yesterday with the appearance in the streets of Russian cities of massive crowds protesting against the Kremlin’s pension reform plan, Aleksandr Skobov says. 

            That conclusion is justified, the Moscow commentator argues, “because in Russia today, politics is so structured that if you can’t bring into the streets several thousand people under the clubs of the Russian Guard, you simply aren’t in Russian politics at all” (

            According to Skobov, “the single real measure in Russian politics are the batons of the Russian Guard along with the judges and election commissions controlled by the powers that be. But these are only adjuncts to the same batons of the Russian Guard.”

            “Therefore,” he says, “elections do not mean anything in Russia. Law does not mean anything. Only the club of the Russian Guard has significance. It is the core of Russian politics. Only it is a political force.” And only those who are able to get Russians to go out into the streets and put themselves at risk of these batons are involved in real politics.

            Only those who do so, Skobov insists, “can become a political force.” That is because when “all politics in a country is based on force, only those who have the club or those who are capable of not being intimidated by it” are genuine political forces. “There is thus no other opposition in Russia besides the Navalny movement.”

            “Not a democratic one or a liberal one. There are some individuals” who have democratic and liberal views and who know how to speak “beautiful words. But these words are significant only when there are people who are prepared to go out and face those who have clubs on the basis of those words.”  

            Skobov continues: “The Navalny people do not promise ‘communism on the horizon’ and do not mention threatening ‘red lines.’ They lead people out against the clubs directly here and now” even when the numbers are still too small to overthrow the power of the frauds, thieves and murderers now in office. They alone help Russians break out of their stultifying passivity.

            And that in turn is why “the authorities throw such forces to trample underfoot the Navalny movement, to force it to humbly submit and subordinate itself to the fraudulent rules” of the regime.  In this way, the powers are confirming that they are confronted by a power, still weaker than itself but growing in influence and might.

            As Skobov notes, “a political struggle is a clash of political wills. The strength of the opposition in an authoritarian state … consists of the willingness of its participants to go out and demonstrate again and again in spite of bans, beatings, and arrests.” And its strength grows to the extent it repeats this process even though the beatings and arrests increase.

            The Putin regime has enough “political will to beat and arrest many more people than it did on September 9” when it arrested more than a thousand and beat even more than that.  “It has the political will to use tear gas and water cannons. But it doesn’t have the political will to shoot at a peaceful mass demonstration. Because ‘they’ are cowards.”

            The Putin poers that be “can shoot only in the back and they shot Boris Nemtsov. They can shoot only in a building entrance as they shot Anna Politkovskaya. But they will not shoot at a peaceful mass demonstration. At that, their political will ends. Consequently, it is necessary that in this situation, the political will of the opposition turns out to be stronger.”

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