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Russian ‘Liberals’ Are “Outsiders”, Claims Expert

KIEV, February 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

Dmitro Dzhangirov, a Russia and East Europe expert, in a recent article has stated that once Vladimir Putin wins the Presidential election Russian liberals will return to their position as “political outsiders”.

Dzhangirov said: “As we know from political science one of the conditions for success of the political force (first of all – of the opposition) is its ability to clearly answer the question “Who are you? Where from and where are you going? ”

“The most understandable are the historical traditions Russian communists – they are the “revolutionaries’ great-grandchildren, the World War II victors’ grandchildren, children of space explorers”, “fighters for workers’ rights violated by the ruling regime”. This is the position of the Communist Party and of non-party leftists involved in street protests.

“Less clear is the “history” of Russian nationalists, who continue the “age-old struggle for the liberation of the Russian people from the yoke of foreigners”. In this tradition of struggle is determined, above all, by the immutability of “the enemies of the Russian people” (the West, Jews, Muslims – in all possible combinations). The end result of the fight should be a return to the Russian people of property, dignity, history, and thus of the Great Motherland.

“Against this paradoxical background is the situation in which the “Yeltsin era” Liberals of the 90s found themselves. They are, first and foremost the former Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov, former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Boris Nemtsov, former Deputy President of the State Duma and leader of the faction “Our Home – Russia” Vladimir Ryzhkov and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

“These men, united in a party PARNAS (People’s Freedom Party), have the greatest authority among all opposition journalists, the biggest access to the opposition media and the maximum citation index in the foreign media. But at the same time they have an almost insuperable problem with the wording of the formula “where from and where?”.

“Since these people are associated primarily with the post-Soviet economic liberalism they can’t build a bridge neither to the “people of the 60s”, generated by the Khrushchev thaw, nor to the “dissidents” who appeared during the Brezhnev era.

“The connection with the pre-revolutionary liberals is even less obvious (although the People’s Freedom Party is the official name of the liberal Constitutional Democratic Party since 1906), because they were in favour of limiting the autocracy, rather than abolishing it.

“As a result, only 2 months after the start of the protest movement Boris Nemtsov revealed the guidelines concerning the past declaring on the 1st of February on Radio “Liberty” that “Yeltsin would have been on the Bolotnaya Square!”

“Today Boris Yeltsin, according to opinion of the Russian people, is an obvious outsider among all Soviet and Russian leaders. But at the same time he is considered to be the lesser evil compared to Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Berezovsky who impose themselves as moral and intellectual leaders of the protesters.

“For example, Mikhail Gorbachev called for a referendum which was “to destroy the vertical of power”. One can only imagine the reaction to such a statement among the Russians who survived “perestroika”, collapse of the Soviet Union and all processes that accompanied this collapse.

“Boris Berezovsky who is escaping from the Russian court verdict in London in his first letter to Vladimir Putin urged to leave voluntarily and to initiate the process of transferring power with the participation of the Patriarch Kiril, and in the second letter he instructed the Prime Minister’s rivals how to disrupt the elections within the bounds of the current legislation as soon as possible.

“At the same time direct belonging to Yeltsin’s entourage or moral solidarity with the Yeltsin era limited the president’s rating of Russian liberals in the 2000s to maximum 2%. Even at the peak of their popularity this result was reached neither by Mikhail Kasyanov nor by Garry Kasparov. Boris Nemtsov can only remember his popularity in the ’90s, an independent sociological research organization Levada-Center gave the same 2% to Grigory Yavlinsky before he left the presidential race.

“But all the problems of Russian liberals with the answer to the question “where from?” pale before the question “where?”. They have so serious ideological problems with the description of the future, that could be acceptable to any significant number of Russians, that PARNAS is forced to limit its time horizon with the presidential election on March 4, 2012. It puts forward two slogans “For Fair Elections!” and “Not a single vote for Vladimir Putin!” that will need to be adjusted the very next day, on March 5.

“We assume that after the elections, which Vladimir Putin is likely to win in the first round, Russian liberals will return to their initial positions of political outsiders, appealing to the help of the West and completely ceding the streets to “new leftists” and “new nationalists”.” Dmitro Dzhangirov is a journalist and Russia – East Europe expert

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