The year 2012 is going to be an exciting one. There will be a presidential election in the United States. There may be a military clash in the Strait of Hormuz. But the most important changes may occur in Russia, where the Russian people are preparing to challenge the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. During the street protests in Moscow and other cities last month, a new feeling swept the country. This feeling has its roots in the development of an authentic Russian middle class. It is not a wealthy middle class by Western standards, but it nonetheless bears the mark of self-sufficiency and decency. Either this decency will prevail, or it will be checked. Either Putin will be swept from power or the Russian middle class will be smashed.
On one side of the struggle is the surviving machinery of old Soviet state: the secret police, the Interior Ministry, the large corporations, and Putin’s controlled media. On the other side we see millions of people who are fed up with arbitrary government power, gangster methods, and who want to see the rule of law. Each side has its own rhetoric, its own philosophy.
Exemplifying the rhetoric of the Russian state, consider a recent Pravda.ru opinion piece titled Nuclear War on the horizon. Here is a view sometimes expressed by operatives of the Kremlin. In fact, something akin to this view was put forward by Vladimir Putin when he spoke to the Russian nation following the Beslan massacre of September 2004. At that time he blamed America for conspiring to murder Russian children, claiming that “someone” wanted to break up Russia and finish off what remained of the Soviet state because Moscow still had nuclear weapons.
In the Pravda.ru column, America is depicted as threatening the entire world with nuclear annihilation. The United States is accused of leading a bloody “genocidal campaign against Libya” and of threatening the same against Iran. No credit is given to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for publicly speaking out against a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In fact, the United States is embarking upon a program of spontaneous disarmament. As Congress has been unable to pass the necessary deficit reduction package, the U.S. Defense Department will face what Panetta says are “devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation’s defense.”
The real policy of the United States and the real objectives of the U.S. military are never acknowledged by Putin’s spokesmen. In the Pravda.ru column we read: “The forces of demonic evil now have come nose to nose with the forces of reason.” This was a reference to the Russian fleet stationed near Syria, and the potential for a confrontation with NATO warships. Here the old rhetoric of the Soviet Union appears once more. The war drums are thundering, and the “imperialist aggressor” is called to account. But we cannot take it seriously. For something else has appeared on the horizon, which Putin says was inspired by the CIA: a popular opposition movement against his KGB regime.
Exemplifying this opposition we find Danila Galperovich’s interview with Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, translated for Frontpagemag.com by Yelena Glazova. Here we find a frank discussion of Moscow’s police state methods. Here we learn that the KGB has “lost much of their qualitative acumen and sharpness in the last twenty years.” And why wouldn’t they? According to KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, the post-Soviet regime of pretended democracy was not supposed to last twenty years. It was designed to overpower the West in ten years. So the plan didn’t work. So Russia’s hidden totalitarian structures have begun to decay. They have remained under fake bourgeois auspices too long; and besides, there is no Stalin to lead them. In this matter we should remember what Stalin said to his henchmen during his last days: “You are like blind kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”
What Bukovsky goes on to describe is the fate of these blind kittens, caught up in the crisis of Russia’s false democracy. One might say it is the crisis of a deception gone too long, carried too far by structures that can no longer bear the load. A world war might have once saved the current Russian regime, granting it renewed legitimacy in the midst of crisis. But now it is too late. According to Bukovsky, the incompetence of the regime is such that if Stalin were alive today he would have them all shot. “They cannot even blow up the buildings in their capital city without exposing themselves and leaving traces,” Bukovsky added, referring to the 1999 apartment bombings that were used to justify the KGB’s return to power. “Nothing [in the KGB/FSB] works as it should,” says Bukovsky.
So how will this Kremlin, with its third generation blind kittens, survive the growing groundswell of popular opposition? Bukovsky says that the KGB understands how to manipulate mass movements with its network of double agents. But in the end, this method will not work. “The social atmosphere in due course becomes ever more politicized, radicalized,” Bukovsky explained. In the end, the KGB cannot join the protests against itself without damaging its own position. And so, Russia faces a serious political crisis in March or April. This crisis will likely grow, and spiral out of control.
Such is the hopeful, optimistic language of Putin’s opposition – represented by Vladimir Bukovsky. It does not entail fear-mongering or anti-Western propaganda. It simply describes a regime that has lost touch with its people. Such a regime may accuse the United States of fostering a revolution in Russia, or threatening the whole world with nuclear destruction; but the game of deflecting criticism in the wake of fraudulent elections does not appear to be working.
The year 2012 should prove decisive for Russia. Will the anti-Americanism take Russia by the throat? Or will the KGB regime lose its grip? One year from today we should know the answer.