Oborona continues to draw the attention and support of the movers and shakers in Russian opposition politics. Now, it reports on a recent meeting with Boris Nemtsov (LR staff translation, not by our professional translators, corrections welcome; look for a new original LR professional translation by Dave Essel of the first chapter of Nemtsov's new white paper on the Putin years, linked to below, this Monday):
On February 8th at the Moscow headquarters of Oborona hosted the former vice-premier of Russia, one of the foundering leaders of the SPS political party, Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov.
Nemtsov immediately asked about the status of Oborona coordinator Oleg Kozlovsky, who was illegally drafted a month and a half ago into the army, and received briefing. He then went on to discuss key issues in current Russian politics such as corruption in the bureaucratic system, the collapse of military effectiveness of the army, the pension fund deficit, the demographic crisis, the commodity-dependent distortions in the economy, and many others. It was stressed that despite extremely favorable market prices of oil and gas, the Putin regime has been unable to make significant progress in resolving any of the key issues. The country is still beset by serious social diseases, which will make their presence severely felt in the even of any downturn on the commodity markets regardless of how large the "stabilization fund" might grow. The only hope for Russia is full-scale political and legal reform leading to the creation of a modern democratic state. Nemtsov agreed that it is virtually impossible now to rely on printed media to advance the cause of reform due to censorship, meaning that only electronic publication is available, and he has published an analysis of the Putin years in power on his website.
Nemtsov discussed with Oborona various possible strategies that might be pursued in order to help Russia down the road to democratization, and we discussed his decision to boycott the presidential elections on March 2nd. Nemtsov called for a boycott and advocating signing a petition online, followed by taking active steps to protest the election itself, such as voting with a spoiled ballot, as well as to focus on seeking to win elections for office at the municipal level, where Putin's influence is less. He also stressed the need to unify the opposition forces under a single umbrella organization with streamlined decisionmaking, and called for a democratic summit conference in St. Petersburg on March 22nd to discuss the matter further.
The Sunday Photos: Nemtsov at Oborona