Friday, March 10, 2023

Street Protests Effective Only if Elite is Divided and the Opposition Respects the People– and in Russia, the Elite isn't and the Opposition Doesn't , Solovey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 10 – The success of Georgian street protests in getting elites to back down has led to a fresh upsurge in the number of Russian commentators bemoaning the lack of political courage among the Russian people, Valery Solovey says; but that is a mistake because the differences don’t lie in national cultures but in the state of national elites.

            In Georgia as in all cases of successful protests, the political elite is divided and portions of it even favor the demonstrators, the Russian political scientist says; but in Russia, the elite is monolithic in its support for the dictator and he is prepared to use as much force as needed to keep himself in power (

            “The Ukrainian, Georgian, Polish, Czech and practically all other opposition which came to power as a result of color and velvet revolutions” had another distinction as well, Solovey says. “It was not only liberal democratic and pro-Western but also nationally oriented” and insisted that all their compatriots deserved respect and not just a clutch who agreed with them.

            In this regard, it is instructive that Barack Obama won the presidency by talking about the harm that the Iraqi campaign had inflicted on Americans rather than on Iraqis. Had he done otherwise, it is an open question as to whether he would have achieved victory. Indeed, had he denounced Americans as orcs or worse, he almost certainly would not have.

            “If the Russian liberal opposition doesn’t learn this apparently simple lesson,” Solovey says, “no window of opportunity and no split within the elite will help it.”

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