09 November 2008

Economic Crisis and Russia’s Opposition: An Update

Two weeks ago, I noted that the economic crisis in Russia did not seem to be sparking much opposition, despite some liberals’ hot air about the potential stirrings of the placid majority whose quietude has been resting on the benefits of petro-profits. But reporters this week observed some cracks in the façade of Russian authority as Communists (KPRF) grabbed their banners and hit the pavement. According to the Moscow Times:

Tens of thousands of Communists took to the streets nationwide Friday to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the 1917 Revolution and gloat at how capitalism has led to the global financial crisis.

More than 150,000 citizens took part in the rallies across the country, according to the Interior Ministry, and in Moscow thousands of supporters marched Friday evening from Pushkin Square to Teatralnaya Ploshchad to commemorate the Revolution.

The global financial crisis was one of the key themes in the rally. "Capitalists! I recommend you start reading [Karl] Marx's 'Das Kapital,'" Zyuganov told the crowd in a speech.
Meanwhile, over at the Duma, V.V. Zhirinovsky continued to make a strong case for why he should never be President:
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, criticized Communist official Vladislav Yurchik for congratulating his fellow Duma deputies on the holiday. "This is the day of a coup d'etat, not the Great October Revolution, and if such appeals are made in the auditorium of the State Duma, then if I were President Medvedev I would dissolve the State Duma today," Zhirinovsky said, RIA-Novosti reported.
In fact, the President’s office does seem to be getting a little worried:
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered police on Friday to stamp out any social unrest or crime arising from the global financial crisis.

"We have a stable state. … We do not need a return to the 1990s when everything was boiling and seething," Medvedev told a meeting of senior officials.

"The law enforcement agencies should keep track of what is happening," he said. "And if someone tries to exploit the consequences of the financial crisis … they should intervene, bring criminal charges. Otherwise, there won't be order."
But my guess is that this is most likely just tough posturing from Boo-Boo Bear Medvedev rather than an expression of real concern. Really, how worried can you be when your opposition looks like this:


Then again, there are scarier elements of resistance. The art-group War (Война) commemorated the Revolution along with the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno by laser-projecting a skull and crossbones onto the White House in Moscow.

And here's the usual poorly-produced accompanying video documentation (h/t to kg/thatcageygirl) of their self-declared subversion:

Yes, it looks like my earlier reports were all wrong. The opposition--feeding off mass discontent brought on by the economic crisis--is ready to knock out the Medvedev-Putin diarchy with the combined forces of aging Communists, teenagers hired to hold up signs, girls with flowers and artsy anti-authoritarians (bless 'em all).

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Buster, your posts are an interesting example of how can man make wrong conclusions out of true news pieces.

Besides, it looks like you do not like very much "Medvedev-Putin diarchy". What makes you feeling like that?


Buster said...

Evgeny, I think you will very much enjoy this true news piece. I hope you can make the right conclusions from it.

Anonymous said...

Buster: Did you get offended?


Buster said...

Two weeks ago I said this:

Evgeny, really, I think we are coming close to an agree-to-disagree point here. I take your comments in the friendly spirit I take them to be offered in, but I also fear that we may be talking past each other a bit.

I'm not offended. I just don't think we're getting anywhere with your re-assertions of talking points from the pro-government nationalist opinion-makers in Russia: foreigners ought not interfere in Russian affairs; Americans/Europeans apply a double-standard in their evaluations of Russians; the administration's relation to dissent is required by the current political-economic situation; people who complain about the treatment of migrants in Russia seem to want some unfair "special rights" or "special treatment."

There are arguments (faulty in my opinion) for each of these assertions, I suppose. But I have yet to get the sense that you are actually reading my posts and replies in full, understanding them, and responding in a thoughtful manner. Rather it seems that you just latch onto keywords and activate some pre-existing script on the topic.

Really, I think we are talking past each other. And I'm not sure that it is a worthwhile expenditure of time for either of us.

Anonymous said...

buster: Wow, I didn't know that all about myself.

Кстати, так технично никто меня на хуй ещё не посылал :-)

Anonymous said...

Evgeny. (forgot to subscribe)

Anonymous said...

In fact, yes, I have my views. Although I find strange the way you perceive them, I'm not going to refuse of them.

Perhaps you too have views which you don't want to change.

I caught myself on the idea, that you are judging situation in Russia based on your native American pre-sets.

Like, you would probably judge most of mentions about negroid race in Russia as racist. But you do not take into account, that people of that race were never enslaved in Russia. Therefore, calling people of that race people of that race, is no more racist in Russia than calling asians asians.

You find Communist demonstrations a sign threatening "Putin-Medvedev" political situation in Russia. Indeed, if anything of that sort happened in the U.S. it would mean the end of everything. But in Russia, Communism is not a threat to the system, like a father can't be threat to his child. Communist demonstrations do not mean anything in the terms of anti-system dissent. Yes, there are Communists. Yes, they celebrate communist holidays. Man, I even sympathize them for their sort of sound radicalism. But they are actually a part of the system.

Of course, a top politician like Zhirinovsky would be a real problem in the U.S. In Russia, he is not. He express rather radical views in order to be heard, that's all. I guess, if he was elected a President (a situation quite possible if e.g. Medvedev was murdered before the election), he would shift to more moderate views.

Note: if Zhirinovsky says Russian army will wash its boots in Indian Ocean, it doesn't mean he's mongering a war.

"The opposition--feeding off mass discontent brought on by the economic crisis--is ready to knock out the Medvedev-Putin diarchy with the combined forces of aging Communists"

Oh, it just can't be that. Orange revolution is impossible in Russia now. I read that in the recent Pelevin's novel.


I just now understood that I perhaps put it all wrong. I do not get all the nuianses of the English speech, unfortunately. Indeed, yours was the irony. Putting my hat off, Sir.


Anonymous said...

"Capitalists! I recommend you start reading [Karl] Marx's 'Das Kapital,'" Zyuganov told the crowd in a speech.

...adding in an aside, "It's OK to skip the chapter on Ground Rent."

I used to know a CPUSA leader who admitted she kept Volume One at her bedside because that chapter was a sure cure for insomnia.

kg said...

Я согласна - абсолютно заслуженное посылание на последние буквы алфавита было исполнено виртуозно. :)
А фотка с Зюгановым и пышнотелой дамой в красном - ну честное слово, будто откопали затерянный шедевр Бориса Михайлова, года где-нибудь 1975-го. And I don't think Buster was saying these people are a real threat to the current powers that be. ;)

Anonymous said...

Buster: Indeed, what do you have against Medvedev and Putin? Looks like you take this for granted. But isn't it just another of your prejudices? Remember your year in Russia: it was not that bad at all, wasn't it? If you don't see an easy and clear answer to why you should dislike Putin and Medvedev, I'm proud to congratulate you: you are influenced by propaganda. You aren't strong enough to blow propaganda stuff out of your ears.

I, e.g., can explain in great details what do I like in the current situation, what I dislike, and what are the choices. I really know the situation, I actually read quite more critical stuff about Russia than neutral or positive.

So, really, think again. Not in any abstract terms, but in real-world ones: how do you like the situation -- personally for you -- now, and how would you like it -- personally for yourself -- if it would be different.