Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Russian Conservatives Must Back Navalny Tactically Because He is Weakening State, Savvin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 1 – Many Russian conservatives are now debating whether they should welcome Aleksey Navalny’s success in attracting so many people to his banner or even more whether conservatives and those on the right more generally should help him. They fear that if Navalny succeeds, leftists around Navalny will promote radical outcomes.

            They fear and not without some foundation, Dimitry Savvin, the editor of the Riga-based conservative Russian Harbin portal, says, that this would lead not to continued progress but rather result in backward moves that could harm everyone as happened with perestroika (harbin.lv/prekrasny-svoey-gryadushchey-slabostyu).

            “Soviet and neo-Soviet society and its government continue to repeat certain cycles,” he says. “This cyclic shows itself with striking clarity in practically all aspects of social and political life, including in matters of worldview,” the commentator continues. And thus, it is entirely reasonable for conservatives to be skeptical about Navalny and his team.

            In this regard, Savvin says, “the democratic forces in the RSFSR between 1989 and 1991 sere extremely and radically different from their fellows from the Baltic and East European countries where the democratic idea moved in lock step with nationalism,” something that was not true among Russians.

            Today, at a time when “the real political opposition in the Russian Federation is focused on the personality of Navalny,” something “almost identical” is the case. Navalny began as a nationalist but “already by 2013,” he “distanced himself from Russian nationalism” and surrounded himself with people of left-liberal and radically left views.

            According to Savvin, “an analogous picture is observed also in other, significantly less influential groups of the Russian extra-systemic opposition.” And because of the presence of leftist groups that may provoke a reactionary response, Russian nationalists quite property are being cautious.

            What must be remembered, however, the commentator says, is that there is no true revolution possible in Russia now or anytime in the near future “The only possible variant of change now is Perestroika 2.0, that is, forced liberalization above launched by the neo-Soviet nomenklatura and the oligarchate.”

            That tactic and those nomenklatura and oligarchate members may play with “’the democrats’” but they will not lessen their efforts to block “real right-of-center and conservative” Russians from coming to power. But despite this, Savvin says, Perestroika 2.0 can provide “a window of opportunity” for conservatives by its “inevitable weakening of the powers.”

            Conservatives need to be for such a weakening, “but not for Navalny personally or the extra-systemic opposition in general.” The Russian right does not have the cadres or the material resources or a powerful organization to take on the state, and as consequence, it must work toward the development of these and the weakening of the state which opposes it.

            “Navalny and his supporters by their actions objectively are bringing closer Perestroika 2.0,” the commentator continues. “To be sure, their role in this process is not the defining one but all the same, the presence of a protest movement within the Russian Federation is a not unimportant factor.”

            This means that while they are struggling against the current regime, Navalny and his movement “should be viewed by us as a positive force which we can help (but without harm to our own political interests) and which we should not be opposing.” But “after the exit of Putin,” the situation will be change; and the Russian conservatives will be compelled to oppose Navalny.

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