Sunday, July 18, 2021

Putinist Authoritarianism Forces His Opponents to Adopt New Approaches, Yavlinsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 12 – Too many people, including in the opposition, have failed to recognize that the political system in which their movements and parties were established no longer exists, that “the era of post-Soviet modernization is at an end,” and that new people and groups need to come to the fore to fight against it in new ways, Grigory Yavlinsky says.

            In a conversation with Kirill Martynov, the political editor of Novaya gazeta, the creator of the Yabloko Party says that in order to promote that understanding and that generational change, he decided not to run in the Duma elections but rather to allow a new generation of leaders committed to freedom to emerge (

            Yavlinsky says that “in Russia has been established a corporatist, semi-mafia, super-authoritarian state with an opaque and extremely ineffective political system which has nothing in common with the contemporary European world and, what is most important, does not want to have anything in common with it.”

            Russians can no longer deceive themselves about this or about the fact that the prospects for the rising generation are anything but certain. But they must do what they can so that they make use of the situation rather than be used as decorations to deceive others as some opposition figures and parties have been.

            Under Putin, Russia is headed in the opposition direction it was immediately after 1991; but Russian opposition figures are conducting discussions as if that were not the case, as if the issues were about the need for small course corrections rather than a fundamental change in the country’s direction. That must change if the country is to go forward.

            “We have to learn how to work in these other conditions, in which authoritarianism and dictatorship” are the defining features of life, Yavlinsky says. But refusing to be part of the game and put forward a Yabloko Party list or to run for the Duma again, he says, he is “taking a new step” in that direction.

            “I want that het fraction will learn to work independently and political leaders will grow up,” he continues. “This is a very difficult situation, but it must be done … I am trying to show that the new generation also is capable of working,” one that recognizes what is around them and fights against it.

            Leaders must make this clear to the Russian people. They must not deceive them by taking part in what has become a charade. And they must be honest about what they are seeking rather than simply seeking to advance their personal fortunes within a political system that wants to crush them and their values.

            In moving forward, the new generation will have to develop new tactics; but there is one thing they must not do: they must not dilute their commitment to the basic values of freedom by cooperating with those who oppose those values, Yavlinsky says, adding in conclusion that he hopes to be remembered as someone who helped Russia move in that direction.

            “I love this country,” he declares.

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