Sunday, February 20, 2022

Russian Opposition Abroad Needs to Show a Certain Asceticism and Inclusiveness to Win Support at Home, Vintsevskaya Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 30 – Conflict are the norm rather than the exception in émigré life, but two that have surfaced in recent terms concerning the Free Russia Forum leadership and its relations to other emigres and to Russians more generally are now attracting some disturbing attention.

            Tatyana Vintsevskaya, a psychologist and political analyst from Siberia who currently resides abroad, says that she is disturbed about two things – the propensity of the leaders of the Free Russia Forum to take better care of themselves than Russians at home can and the unwillingness of those leaders to be inclusive of representatives of the regions.

            “Lenin,” she writes with some bitterness, “did not build himself mansions in Switzerland but lived instead in rented apartments. Today, if Russians see that the émigré opposition lives rather well, then they will quite reasonably ask: ‘what the hell are you doing for us? We barely have enough to live one’” (

            Vintsevskaya says she has nothing against people living well but believes that if they hope to attract the support of others who are significantly less well off than they are as the leaders of the Free Russia Forum do, they need to act with restraint and financial discipline to show just whose side they are one.

            The situation now is so bad, she continues, that he has the impression that “’the struggle with the regime’ has become an extremely profitable business for some émigré Russian opposition figures. And even that it would be horrible for them if this regime suddenly were really to fall! For then these ‘fighters’ would lose all their benefits.”

            A second issue, one that involves fewer people but matters to them in important ways, concerns the attitude of these same leaders to Russians from beyond Moscow’s ring road or the precincts of St. Petersburg. Forum leaders treat such people as poor relations who simply need to follow those in the megalopolises rather than as representatives of equally important views.

             In short, Vintsevskaya says, the leaders of the émigré Forum treat people from outside the capitals as provincials rather than as regionalists, as people who have not option but to run after whatever those in the major urban centers do instead of representing diverse regions with opinions of their own.


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