Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ever More Numerous Russian Forums Abroad Reflect Deteriorating Situation at Home, Morozov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 22 – This fall, there has been an unprecedented number of major meetings of Russian democrats in European cities, but it is a mistake to describe them as émigré actions because only about one in ten of the participants is an exile in the way that Herzen or Solzhenitsyn was, Aleksandr Morozov says.
            Instead, most either come from Russia or live part of the time there and part abroad, the Russian commentator says; but their growing number not only is the product of growing repression at home where such meetings are now almost impossible but also help to attract international attention and promote change at home (graniru.org/opinion/m.277918.html).

            Among the most prominent of these meetings recently were the SlovoNovo forum in Montenegro, the Boris Nemtsov Forum in Warsaw, the Free Russia Forum in Vilnius, the Russian Speakers for European Values meeting in Berlin, and the Russia for Citizens conference in the German capital. Also in Berlin there was a forum ‘In Search of Lost Universalism.”

            These meetings are taking place abroad because the ability to hold them inside Russia is ever more limited.  The only democratic spaces left in Moscow are the Sakharov Center and Memorial in Moscow. Beyond the ring road, such assemblages have become completely impossible.

            The goals of the organizers vary widely. Zhanna Nemtsov wants to keep the memory of her murdered father alive and maintain communication between Russian democrats and those above.  Gary Kasparov has a more directly political agenda focused on how to replace the Putin regime while Marat Gelman and Anton Litvin have a more artistic focus.

            Igor Eidman seeks to organize anti-Putin activists living in or passing through Berlin. Elena Nemirovskya and Yury Senokosov who operating training schools in Russia until they were listed as foreign agents have simply shifted their efforts to foreign soil. And Mikhail Khodorkovsky is using his new one to bring together Open Russia followers.

            Many ask what good do these meetings do. But that question is typically rhetorical because in fact at a time of rising repression in Russia itself, such meetings do make a contribution by promoting discussion, showing that opposition to the regime continues, and attracting attention at home and abroad, Morozov concludes. 

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