Posts Tagged ‘Anton Orekh’
Michael McFaul is known for his sober and clear understanding of the situation in Russia. He barely has any illusions on what the Russian political system is like. But he does really sound like many Realpolitik-infected diplomats, who call the West to turn a blind eye on Russia slipping down to dictatorship.
Is Obama’s administration really going to give the issue of human rights the last priority or how should we understand this “new approach”?
This all ties in with the article from Paul Goble that I mentioned yesterday. I want to hi-light a few of the more salient parts of Paul’s piece.
Russian rights activists were angered by three things “Kommersant” reported, each of which at least in part McFaul and others have suggested the Moscow paper misquoted him or misconstrued his meaning. First, the activists were upset that the NSC staffer had suggested that Washington will refrain from “public criticism” of Surkov’s beloved “sovereign democracy.”
Second, they were angered that the joint commission on civil society would not include NGO representatives. And third, they were angered by the notion — added it should be noted by “Kommersant” — that McFaul had equated what they do with what Moscow operatives like Andranik Migranyan of the New York-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.
Lyudmila Alekseyeva at Moscow Helsinki was particularly critical:
“[I]f America says: ‘we have democracy, and you can arrange things for yourselves as you like, then everything the democratic countries have achieved since 1975 will go by the wayside…. [I]f America and the rest of the world will silently watch while freedom of the press is suppressed [in Russia], while meetings and demonstrations are broken up, … while political parties are shackled and elections falsified, … then, in that case, [she said she thought] that the Nobel Peace Prize had been given to Barak Obama prematurely.”
From Bukovsky (who gave a great speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum): “the problem of human rights is directly connected with the problem of international security” because countries that ignore human rights “are inclined to aggression”
But by far the best response was Anton Orekh’s:
“[I]n the struggle for changes in [Russian] society, [Russians] can count only on themselves…. No one except us can resolve this problem,” he concluded, and rather than continue to “appeal to the enlightened West” to come and save Russia from itself, “it would be better [for those who care about human rights and democracy] to more actively work with one’s own citizens however difficult such work inevitably is.”
Some things to think about.
for a reaction to this whole Iran business.
This will probably sound a bit conspiracy theorist to some of you, but I believe that Russia, and Iran will not abandon each other. We expect too much if we believe that we can force either side into backing down. Therefore, this latest announcement from Sergei Lavrov came as no surprise.
While the Iran aspect is interesting, what this story really proves is that Medvedev has no real power or say regarding Russian foreign policy. The person calling the shots here is still Putin. This is the political reality of Russia today. The tandemocracy is not a 50-50 split. It is probably not even, as Yulia Latynina once said, 70-30. It is closer to 80-20, and there is not a whole lot we can do to change that.
Which is why I find the Obama administration’s continued attempts to sideline Putin so fascinating. On the one hand, it could be seen as a smart move, which could result in a boost of power for Medvedev, who hopefully will eventually sideline Putin for good.
But imagine this scenario for a moment: feeling confident because of Obama’s support, Medvedev decides to ditch Putin. What do you imagine happens? A super Clan War (way bigger than 06.06, or than the Cherkesov disaster) where the whole Government is split, and the possibility of a military coup looms. This would tie in with Joe Biden’s idea (that did not come out of thin air, by the way… he read it somewhere) that we want a weak Russia, but I seriously question that claim.
The Obama administration’s policy regarding Putin begs the question, aren’t we just a little full of ourselves? What makes us think that our approval will help Medvedev in any way? There is nothing that suggests that is the case, and everything to suggest that this strategy will blow up in our (and Medvedev’s) face. And that could potentially be a disaster for all of us.
P.S. For a Russian’s view on the Obama administration’s policy regarding Russia, and her government, read Paul Goble’s summary of Anton Orekh’s Ekho Moskvy article.