Vienna, January 4 – The Russian FSB is continuing the Soviet-era KGB practice associated with General Filip Bobkov of pushing liberals and patriots into fighting one another through the use of agents in both, according to a former MVD general who worked alongside the infamous Bobkov 25 years ago.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Vladimir Ovchinsky, an ex-MVD major general who later headed the Russian section of Interrpol, said that recent events strongly suggest that Russia has been marching “a closed circle for more than 20 years” as far the way in which security agencies deal with protests (www.svobodanews.ru/content/article/2262376.html).
Ovchinsky said that the clash in Manezh Square caused him to recall his service in the MVD in the mid- to late- 1980s when he was responsible for countering crime among young people in Moscow, an experience that proved to him that some officials were provoking nationalists while others were horrified by that.
At that time, he told RFe/RL’s Mikhail Shevelev, “there were two wins in the KGB. One, counter-intelligence, assessed the situation quite accurately, [but] the other, the Fifth Chief Directorate, attempted to make use of the Lyubertsy, the fascists, and directed them against pro-Western youth groups.”
The former MVD officer said that the comment of Filipp Bobkov, the first deputy chairman of the KGB of the USSR about this was “well known.” According to Bobkov, the story has it, “he had in his office two safes: in one were the dossiers of those who called themselves Russian patriots and in the other those who listed themselves among the democrats.”
“And among the first and also among the second are both sincere people and paid agents” of the authorities, Bobkov remarked.
Ovchinnikov said that in his view, this “two-handed game is continuing even now. Neither the system, nor the ideology nor the situation has changed.” And he noted that the fact that there is a minister in the Russian Federation government by the name of Yakemenko who a little more than two decades ago was a Lyubertsy is significant.
Moreover, the longtime MVD officer continued, the slogan “Moscow for All!” clearly appears to be “a logical response to the slogan ‘Moscow for the Muscovites!’” and thus highlights the way in which the powers that be at the present time may be trying to balance one group off against another.
“To go out and say that we are for internationalism and that we support the idea of Moscow being open to all is certainly not a bad thing,” Ovchinnikov continued. “But it is categorically insufficient for the resolution of the most serious problems” which face Russia now. Indeed, it may be a distraction and even an intended one.”
Unfortunately, he said, “everyone – the powers that be, the liberals and the patriots are ignoring these problems,” at the root of which the MVD officer said was the vacuum created by the absence of “a single state ideology,” a vacuum that he suggested will be filled “not by democratic ideals but by fascist ones.”
Ovchinnikov said that it is absolutely necessary to talk about what his interviewer called “the main problem, the absence of a state” rather than act as if everything is basically all right and that “the single unresolved problem” consists of those with nationalist views, The problem Russia faces is much bigger and deeper than that, the former MVD general said.
While there are many parallels with the 1980s, he argued, the situation is “much more terrible” today because there are deeper social divisions and more clearly separable groups, including ethnic ones. Both liberals and patriots need to acknowledge that if there is any hope of moving forward.
“It would be a good thing for a state to speak the truth. You are a national patriot?” Ovchinnikov said, then “say aloud that Kvachkov is a fascist and a provocateur. You liberals! Stand up and say that what we have now is to a large extent the result of those errors which were committed in the 1990s.”
Until that happens, he suggested, official provocations are going to continue because they will continue to be effective, because they will continue to distract attention from real problems and because they will continue to sow the kind of trust that precludes the formation of the networks of trust that are the foundation of any genuine and effective civil society.