PASKO: You say “without opening a criminal case”… But they approve of this method too – the leader of the St. Petersburg «Yabloko», Maxim Reznik, has been arrested, and in relation to him a criminal case has been opened, under which he faces deprivation of liberty for a term of five years...
KOZLOVSKY: It is obvious that the provocation in relation to Maxim was being prepared for a long time and meticulously. He can’t be conscripted into the army – he’s got a non-conscriptional age. But it’s easy to entrap him in a fight: Maxim is an emotional person, everybody knows this. There are many in today’s Russia who dream of beating up a policeman who is exceeding his authority. No doubt they were counting on the public believing the policemen and their fairy tale about how Maxim had beat up several of the guardians of order.
The precedent with Reznik is alarming. By the way, there already was such a case, and also with a representative of «Yabloko» – when they opened a criminal case against Ivan Bolshakov. That time the case fell apart.
PASKO: Behind all of these cases – when they first are opened, then fall apart, then are maniacally opened once again, only now already in relation to other people – behind all of this I clearly see the signature of the FSB. What do you think on this account?
KOZLOVSKYK: I am confident that behind all these cases stands the FSB. Moreover, when they drove me to the assembly center in Moscow, they stuck a person in the car who congratulated everybody with the Day of the Chekist and everybody congratulated him. They didn’t even hide their affiliation with this organization. After all, what’s important for them is to kiss up to the power, to demonstrate that it’s not for naught that they’re getting high salaries, that they’re fighting “against extremism”… True, they fight with other’s hands: the military’s, the police’s…
PASKO: There is an opinion that they’re still afraid of an orange revolution in the halls of the Kremlin…
Kozlovsky: I think that they truly are afraid. The spectre of Maidan [the square in Kiev that was the focal point of Ukraine’s «Orange Revolution»—Trans.] is wandering around the Kremlin offices. And that’s why the methods of the struggle with other-thinking are getting harsher – as a manifestation of the power’s fear that it may one day be deprived of its power.
PASKO: Maybe the power is in this way getting stronger, perfecting repressive methods?
KOZLOVSKY: I don’t know about the strengthening of the power, but there’s no question that the activeness and the counter-efforts of the opposition after such methods increase. The incident with me unconditionally strengthened «Oborona».
PASKO: They say that the power is afraid of the opposition. But it actively suppresses the dissenters’ marches, locks people up in special receivers, opens criminal cases… That doesn’t look too much like a manifestation of fear before the opposition…
KOZLOVSKY: Repressions are effective when they are few. Violence and force everywhere becomes civil war. But now they want to get rid of the spectre of Maidan with relatively little blood. And to barricade themselves off against the coming of a new power, a democratic one. Because such a power will demand answers for all the crimes that are being committed by today’s power.
PASKO: Did they intimidate you – with the army, the special receiver?
KOZLOVSKY: Me, no. But this did make an impression on some. After all, people are used to feeling themselves comfortable.
PASKO: By the way, we’ve forgotten to discuss yet another method of influencing those who think differently – putting them in psychiatric hospitals.
KOZLOVSKY: Yes, that’s yet another old-new method – a dirty method, but effective in its own way. Here they’re counting on the psychology of the average person, on the fact that an unknown person is always suspicious. Maybe he really is crazy…? And in the opposition, just like in the power, there are people who aren’t quite “normal”. Then, apparently the special services have still got the task of creating an image for an unwanted person, so that everyone would think that he’s, you know, “not quite all there”… They’re still not letting Vladimir Bukovsky forget that he’s supposedly crazy. That is, you need to smear a person, to attach the stigma of a madman on him. These methods need to be fought against; this is mocking and belittling a person and his human dignity.
PASKO: Your assessment of the current state of our opposition?
KOZLOVSKY: This state can not be called “inspiring optimism”. We did not succeed in radically turning Russia from Putin’s course. Therefore, this task still lies ahead and it is getting more complicated. The power is putting up concrete walls all around itself, and it’s getting harder and harder to break through them. On the other hand, the power is helping us by taking its actions to the point of absurdity: everybody, for example, could see for themselves that the elections – this is sheer unadulterated profanation. And everybody can see how the OMON disperse and beat completely harmless people. Everybody sees that there is a semi-military regime in the country. And all this they call “stability”. Such stability is characteristic of prisons and concentration camps. Support for the opposition is growing. We need to continue to put pressure on the power directly – to litigate with it, to participate in actions, marches, to try to express our point of view wherever possible… To interact directly with people. It needs to be clarified to people that democracy – this is not at all what we’ve got now in the country. Nor is it chaos. People need to be shown in what way they can protect their rights and have an influence on the power.
PASKO: After the designation of the heir Medvedev, some people for some reason started talking about a thaw, liberalization in the country…
KOZLOVSKY: I don’t see a single reason for such talk. On what grounds do they call him a liberal? Just what has he done, or even said, that distinguishes him from Putin? Putin also always talked about democracy and freedom of the mass media, but did everything just the opposite. They say: Medvedev – is a lawyer. But Putin’s supposedly a lawyer too! In my opinion, hopes for a better future with the coming of Medvedev into the Kremlin office – are illusory. He’s just as illegitimate as the recently appointed parliament. An illegitimate president and parliament ought to resign from office.
PASKO: Thanks for the conversation. Best of luck!
Just in passing…Not that long ago, when Oleg Kozlovsky was found in isolation, Andrei Illarionov at a meeting with representatives of «Oborona» put his signature to an appeal by the leaders of the opposition on the immediate release of Oleg. In the meeting with the youth, Illarionov noted in particular that the opposition activists should not underestimate their adversaries from the power in force. Cookie-cutter decisions ought to be shunned, new non-standard moves need to be thought up – after all, the agents of the regime also attentively read Gene Sharp and are preparing responses to the most varied variants of our actions. The political situation in Russia is very complex for oppositioneers. Our task is harder than the one that was faced by democrats in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine. However, in the historical perspective, the regime of the siloviki is doomed. It will inevitably be succeeded by a model based on the free competition of different political forces. In Illarionov’s opinion, in order to bring this moment closer, it is necessary to create a broad forum, a round-table or “proto-parliament” with the participation of political movements representing the most varied points of view accepted in Russian society. The opposition ought to focus its efforts on the organization of parallel elections to this representative organ, and not on participation in the dishonest “elections” arranged by the powers in force.