Not a month goes by without the Ukrainian nationalists of multinational nationality otherwise known as the Russian non-systemic pro-Western opposition reminding us why they have sub-margin of error approval ratings.
Their latest Kunstkamera of a conference, the so-called Free Russian Forum, was held on 9-10 March in Vilnius, Lithuania. Some 250 specimens turned out to hear what the self-styled “founding fathers” of Russian democracy had in mind for Russia’s future. Despite featuring an impressive range of handshake-worthy people – Valeriya Novodvorkaya’s spiritual successor Konstantin Borovoy, WSJ op-ed writer Gary Kasparov, persecuted $75,000-a-speech former Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, persecuted contraband art smuggler Alfred Koch, Cato Institute fellow Andrey Illarianov, Pussy Rioter Maria Alekhina, noted cheese aficianado Masha Gessen, thinktank welfare recipients Lilia Shevtsova and Andreas Umland, and Freedom House political scientist Vytis Jurkonis – there was virtually no Western media coverage of this event. I ever so wonder why. /s
Anyhow, I consider that to be a complete disgrace. As a democratist committed to living not by lies, I felt it incumbent upon myself to help remedy this information blackout. For your freedom and mine!
Here are the leading luminaries of the pro-Western Russian opposition, in their own words:
Alfred Koch on Euro-Atlantic Values:
It is time to stage a self-occupation and to admit there are many things we can’t do ourselves. In practice, this means that some state functions will have to be given away: That of the Central Electoral Commission – to PACE, the Constitutional Court – to The Hague, we will have to run electoral campaigns under the control of international organizations, and so forth. This is a voluntary renouncement of part of our sovereignty, but we have to do it under the clear understanding that we are suffering from schizophrenia and are seeing things which don’t exist in reality.
One of the ideas raised was to give portable missile systems to the Syrian opposition so they could shoot down Putin’s fighter aces, analogous to American creativity in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Gary Kasparov on Reform:
Historically, one of the conditions for successful reform in Russia has been geopolitical defeat. If this should involve the losses of territories which do not wish to live by Euro-Atlantic rules, then whatever. Russia is a big country. The USSR fell apart and nothing bad happened.
Konstantin Borovoy on Democratic Values:
A large part of Russian society is obsessed with revanchism and the resurrection of empire. That is why we can’t win without external intervention. To deal with this – as in postwar Germany and Japan – we will have to undertake lustrations and conduct investigations into personal affairs.
Evgeny Chivcharkin on Moral Superiority:
Because we liberals can’t cooperate with each other, it is the evil people who are winning. Because they are mindless worms, who know only how to march in lockstep, and we don’t.
Andrey Illarianov on What Is To Be Done:
Unfortunately, a large percentage of Russians are infected with the imperialist virus, and without its destruction the country can’t be free. There are several parts to this: Immediate cessation of the war aganist Ukraine and in Syria, an end to the confrontation with Turkey, the normalization of relations with the West, the return of Crimea and Donbass to Ukraine, and of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgia, and the removal of Russian troops from Georgia and Ukraine.
Artemy Kivovich Troitsky on Civil Society:
There is a information war going on which creates real victims. Moreover, it produces quite a lot of “crippled minds.” So if you see a vatnik [a Russian redneck], throw a haymaker at him immediately. If he also has an iPhone, first take it away from him, then clock him.
Ilya Ponomarev on Effective Governance:
The government should share its sovereignty, as happen in the EU… the end goal of the state is to self-annihilate.
… on Why Putin is Responsible for Russian Liberals Being Unable to Get Anything Done
This [opposition] dialog on Russia after Putin is really hard to carry out within Russia, because there we’re all fighting for a piece of the pie: Elections for leadership positions, in which some people unify, while others split off… But here abroad we have nothing to divide!
Livia Shevtsova and Andreas Umland on Russia Weaponizing Information:
The former alerted the audience to Kremlin financing of Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and the Pegida movement, while the latter claimed that the affair with the “raped girl” in Berlin has struck a blow to Russia’s image in Germany.
Borovoy to Russian journalists on Freedom of the Press:
I really hope that you get banned from journalistic activities. Scumbags have to be barred from educational, government, and journalistic activities. You are not a journalist or a media person. You are a propagandist…
Kasparov to Russian journalists on Freedom of the Press:
I am calling the police. You are a KGB freak. *proceeds to take Troitsky’s advice on clocking vatniks literally*
(The TV crew attempting to interview Kasparov were arrested by Lithuanian police and deported as a national security risk).
The Free Russian Forum’s Ultimatum to Putin, written by Borovoy:
Humanity must realize that the discussion is not about saving human lifes, but about saving life on planet Earth. The Forum calls on the leaders of the democratic community to present the following Ultimatum to Vladimir Putin:
If in the immediate future there is to be:
1) No withdrawal from the occupied territories of Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine;
2) No freeing of all illegally held hostages;
3) No withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria;
4) No cessation of anti-human Russian propanda throughout Russia and the entire world;
5) No moves towards restoring Russia’s constitutional democracy;
… then Russia will be subjected to a total blockade.
All political, economic, transport, and information ties with Russia are to be cut until the complete fulfillment of all conditions of the Ultimatum.
Kasparov’s Concluding Remarks:
Before this Forum, it was unclear whether we would be able to launch a serious dialog. But the intellectual quality of these discussions have exceeded the most optimistic expectations.
Kasparov is, of course, perfectly correct. Many of the participants in the Free Russia Forum did indeed make accurate and incisive observations. It’s hard not to sympathize with Troitsky’s lamentations about”crippled minds,” nor fault Koch for his “clear understanding that we are suffering from schizophrenia.”