Saturday, January 17, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Duma Experts Say Foreign Forces behind Vladivostok Demonstrations

Paul Goble

Vienna, January 17 – The Analytic Administration of the apparatus of the Russian State Duma has concluded that “foreign forces” instigated the Vladivostok protests by automobile owners in order to provoke either an “orange”-style revolution in Russia as a whole or the secession of that country’s Far Eastern regions.
What is most disturbing about this report – which was obtained by journalists at “Nezavisimaya gazeta” and described in that outlet yesterday – is that it is yet another indication that Moscow officials are not prepared to accept that protests against the government are a normal part of democratic societies (
Instead, this document suggests, many Moscow officials now, like their Soviet-era predecessors, either are convinced that “foreign forces” are behind any disagreement with the center or are ready to present them in that way in order to justify ignoring the demands of the protesters or cracking down on those taking part.
According to the Duma analysts, “the protest actions are being carried out according to a single scenario which recalls the scenarios of the so-called orange revolutions when artificially inspired dissatisfaction” which were designed to lead “to the destabilization of the situation, the replacement of power in the country and the obtaining of pseudo-independence.”
These “international forces,” the Duma analytic report says, want to exploit the current economic situation by portraying “their own state, the Russian government and the president of the country” as “enemies” of the people. And the main goal of these forces is “an attempt to detach the Far East from Russia.”
According to the report, most of “the masses of people do not understand that they have become victims” of political techniques that have been used frequently in Eastern Europe to get them to carry out the designs of these foreign centers. It is thus critically important, the
Duma experts say, that “our citizens know the truth.”
Vladimir Pekhtin, a Duma deputy from Primorsky kray, agrees. He told the Moscow paper that “in the minds of certain foreign special services and certain political centers overseas, such plans are evidently maturing,” and these plans involve exploiting the Russian population, which “did not at the beginning understand that they were being used.”
Asked by “Nezavisimaya gazeta” what foreign agencies he had in mind when he discussed their organization of the protests, Pekhtin at first did not want to give any names. But when pressed, he said that “there are in the Primorye, branches of various international structures like Rotary Clubs,” places where “not everything is as straightforward as it appears.”
The head of the Analytic Center was not available for comment, the paper said, adding that it was not worthwhile trying to identify the specific names of the authors of the report because “they are simply fulfilling a directive from above,” rather than reaching any independent conclusions on their own.
Members of the opposition and independent analysts were dismissive of the report’s findings, although both were concerned about the uses to which the powers that be are likely to use the views it espouses.
Communist deputy Sergey Rezhul’sky said that the goal of the document’s sponsors was not to clarify the situation but rather to allow the government “to declare all future protest actions against the social-economic policy of the powers that be anti-government and inspired from abroad.”
Aleksei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center was even blunter in his assessment of the Duma document. It reflects the government’s “panic,” he said. “It is necessary to somehow explain the crisis [but] it is impossible to do this rationally [because] that would require acknowledging [the government’s] own mistakes, if not its own stupidity.”
“Nezavisimaya gazeta” ended this observation: The paper “has long tried to find trades of citizens and organizations which have decided to take away from Russia the territory indicated. However, neither in the region nor in law enforcement organs nor in blogs nor in the work of experts has it been able to find any trace of separatism in the [Russian] Far East.”

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