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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Kasparov Warns G-8 Leaders on Putin

Garry Kasparov, writing in This is London:

People argue that Russia under Vladimir Putin's iron hand is stable. But while the Kremlin controls all the television channels, I wouldn't rely on those opinion polls. Give us two weeks of uncensored television and the myth of this regime, of its stability and prosperity, will be blown away.

When you talk to people in the countryside, as I do, they see Russia in a very different light. True, they did see some sort of stability in the early Putin years, which was a relief after the very hectic and tumultuous Nineties. But for the past two or three years they have seen a steady deterioration in living standards, and the gap between rich and poor is growing. Everybody can see it.

So people are starting to come out on to the streets in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere. Change is not going to happen overnight but it will happen relatively quickly, and much sooner than anybody expects because this regime is built on sand - it has no real foundation in political or economic structures.

No one sets out to sacrifice himself or herself but I must keep going because I am leading people who are facing great dangers every day. I don't think about it. I just do what I have to do. That's what I learnt during my childhood. I could have a very different life now, but looking at what our activists are doing, the hardships they are experiencing every day, I believe I have no choice. Just look at how many repressive measures have been taken lately. The Constitutional Court decided you can be tried a second time for the same crime. Then parliament approved, at a first reading, a new amendment to the law on extremism. Now your prison term will be longer if they see 'extremist intention' behind your crime. And they are adding something quite ridiculous - people can face criminal charges for 'sympathising with or excusing extremism'. That applies to journalists as well, of course.

The FSB, the successor to the KGB, interrogated me for four hours. They were investigating a case of extremism based on interviews I had given. As far as I could tell, the lieutenant colonel was not ecstatic about having to question me. There was one telling detail. In his office he had two portraits, one of Putin and one of Felix Dzherzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka secret police. That's nice.

So, might I stand as a presidential candidate in 2008? I have been playing the role of co-ordinator, someone in the middle of a broad and quite fragile coalition of opposition groups known as The Other Russia. The game now is not about sending messages but about the opposition winning or losing. We now have to look for a candidate who can mobilise both Left and Right, voters from all walks of life. Stepping in as a candidate would mean me putting my personal agenda ahead of the common interest. That is why I think, for the success of the coalition, I should stay at the centre and do my utmost to bring in as many different political strands as possible. Everybody who joined The Other Russia signed a declaration which was very clear about the rule of liberal democracy. That's where Russia's future should be.

Two formidable politicians, ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Viktor Gerashchenko, the former head of the Central Bank, have declared their intention to run for president, and that is a good start. We may get a couple more candidates but, even with just these two, I think we can show our potential is as great as the combined potential of the Kremlin successors. The future lies here, not with tycoon Boris Berezovsky, now exiled in London. He called for a new Russian revolution, but it was a PR stunt. Berezovsky doesn't play any role in Russian current affairs. Obviously he is a man still full of energy who wants to pretend that he matters here. In fact, if you read his statement, it was more about Putin's entourage than the opposition. He was talking about buying the people around Putin. That's what made the regime so angry. I have no links to him - none at all.

We have only modest funds. If you look at our offices, you will see we are not living in the lap of luxury. We have resources, from Russian sources, and we know how to spend the money wisely. We don't need vast amounts of money because, unlike the Kremlin with its Nashi youth organisation, we do not pay people to demonstrate. From the West we hear only kind words, and that is fine. We believe this is our business. Condoleezza Rice came to Moscow and spoke about Kosovo and the missile problem but, as for elections in Russia, she said that was the internal affair of the Russian people.

The Americans are not exactly selling us down the river - we don't expect much from them. But for an administration which was so vocal in promoting the idea of democracy - making it the core of its foreign policy - to then say that democracy in Russia is irrelevant is outrageous. We are not asking the West to interfere but the fact is that the West is interfering - on Putin's side. They keep referring to Putin as a democratic leader, which is very damaging for our democrats inside the country.

Call a spade a spade: Putin is a dictator. And we want the West to be blunt about it too. I am not saying the West should break off economic ties with Russia. Western corporations make billions of pounds by trading with China and nobody talks about breaking off relations with the Chinese Communist government. But neither do people have any illusions that the Chinese Communists are democrats. So deal the same way with Putin. You cannot invite Putin to meetings of the world's properly elected leaders. He doesn't belong to G7 - I don't call it G8 because G7 stood for seven great industrial democracies. The G8 is utter nonsense.

When Western politicians and experts say the West has no bargaining chips in dealing with Putin, this is not true. The money of his ruling clique is kept abroad, and they won't be indifferent if they are refused entry visas. They will pay attention if the West is serious. I am not suggesting outright hostility, but simply that the West should recognise who they are dealing with: the Russian elite are rich, they're loaded with money, but they are not the same as Westerners because they do not respect the rule of law. And so you should make it clear, when Putin is part of a group such as at the Summit between Russia and the EU last month, you should say: 'Mr Putin, your country is a police state and you have to understand that, if you continue down this path, you will be treated as a rogue leader.'


zhirinovsky's falcon said...

Kasparov, and his close chums and political soulmates Eduard Limonov and Viktor Anpilov, would be better trying to concentrate on winning over the hearts and minds of the Russian people. If he's serious about affecting change in Russia, why have all his efforts been concentrated on the Tiems of London, the British Daily Mail, the Washington Post, etc...

Oh how profitable it is to be the West's media darling. I wonder, how many seats in the Duma will be won by members of the Other Russia participants? Ho ho ho!

La Russophobe said...

You are disgusting liar, typical Russophile scum of the earth.

Kasaparov has repeatedly marched in Russia, been arrested and interrogated by the police. The Kremlin is seeking to disbar his lawyer, and refuses to allow him on national TV, which it owns and controls.

Filth like you are far more dangerous to Russia than any foreign enemy.

zhirinovsky's falcon said...

He has been arrested - once. For four hours. For starting a riot and provoking violence by holding a march of neo-nazis, thugs and your beloved National Bolsheviks that he had no permission to hold.

Why the heck should he be allowed on national TV? He isn't the leader of a major party. He holds no public office. He leads no bloc of Duma deputies. He is totally marginal and a complete non-entity. After all, I couldn't get free access to TV just for the hell of it, so why should Mr "Kasparov"?

Penny said...

If he's serious about affecting change in Russia, why have all his efforts been concentrated on the Tiems of London, the British Daily Mail, the Washington Post, etc...

Putin controls all of the tv stations and most of the press, you dolt. If you are an opposition candidate in Russia there is no public forum open to you. It might be why you are forced to seek the press outside of Russia.

Just what part of that situation do you not understand?

As I've said before people like yourself that live safely in comfort while wishing upon others that which would be intolerable to themselves are immoral craven jerks.

You are one of the dumbest people on the planet.

La Russophobe said...

Being arrested once is one hell of a lot more that YOU have ever done for Russia, you worthless piece of internet flotsam. Who do you think you are kidding? You are WAY out of your league in this forum, dimwit.

Antifascist said...

But first, what is wrong with how the protest movement is being sold to the West. Gary Kasparov, the man they're making into the next Nelson Mandela, is what's wrong. You probably haven't read about this anywhere (unless you read the Russian blogger world), but Kasparov is so deep in bed with the vilest of America's neo-con goons, a VIP member of their PR-politics-lobbying network, that it almost seems like a bad setup. The strangest thing of all is how no one in the major Western media has touched on Kasparov's neo-con connections.

La Russophobe said...


Your statements are utterly deluded.

First, this blog has previously reported on Kasparov's neo-con links. How DARE you make such accusations without even ATTEMPTING to actually check out our content first? Your statement is BENEATH CONTEMPT. The link is here:

Easily found by clicking the Kasparov topic in our sidebar.

Second, it is not Kasparov who is at fault but the PEOPLE OF RUSSIA. If there is somebody better than Kasparov, they sure haven't identified and supported him. They stood by when Politikvosakya was shot just like they stood by when Solzhenitsyn was deported. They are cowards, and until that changes they get exactly the leaders they deserve.

All leaders are flawed. Kasparov is risking something to opppose the status quo in Russia and so, just like Berezovsky, he gets our support until somebody better comes along. Your failure to charge the people of Russia with responsiblity shows you yourself are part of the problem.

Penny said...

Mark Ames is a disgusting useful idiot apologist for the Putin regime. Anything he writes is suspect.

Kasparov ties with conservatives in the US, so what.

Ames doesn't like conservatives, who cares. His smear piece is exactly that. He's a known moonbat with an agenda.

The strangest thing of all is how no one in the major Western media has touched on Kasparov's neo-con connections.

Kasparov's editorials in the WSJ are considered part of the major Western media, you fool. Nothing hidden there. Affiliation with conservative think tanks aren't a bad thing either, so was Solzenitsyn in his years here. Oh, and "neo-con" is the term of derision used by moonbat lefties or anti-semites. So, give it up. Your drivel is stupid.

Big Fat Slob said...

Sweet, so LR admits that Kasparov was arrested only once, and only for four hours -- next thing we knew she'll admit he was arrested for violating the orders of the city government by demonstrating in a location explicitly barred at the time, instead of demonstrating at beautiful Chisty Prudy.

She also admits that Kasparov is financed by American establishment actors... Excellent.

Trolly-Dolly -- you DO realize that in your phobic madness you do a lot of damage to the people you profess to defend, don't you?

What kind of service is THAT you are doing to your private sector paymasters?

Do note, however, that the same people who support LR have also heavily opposed G.W. Bush in the last election.

What pains LR's paymasters is that Putin has spoiled their game that almost came to fruition in 1999.

LR's paymasters are no more and no less capitalist then the folks currently running Russia, but they lost the game, and that really, really hurts.

LR, on the other hand, is simply an overpaid (I fear) PR flunky of mediocre quality who impersonates a mentally diseased woman.

Polly-trolly, do you really think you can put this on your resume?

zhirinovsky's falcon said...

"If you are an opposition candidate in Russia there is no public forum open to you."

What rot. You obviously don't have a clue what you're talking about. The non-entity, Garry "Kasparov" gets about as much media attention as he deserves. Which is very little, because he's a fringe, extremist figure with next-to-no political support.

In any case, I find it difficult to imagine that someone of Kasparov's racial heritage would find it a problem to obtain media coverage, given the ownership trens of the mass media world wide, if you understand what I'm saying.