History never repeats itself exactly, so is there anything one can learn from the two Nothing New Under the Sun (Almost) items on the Fog of Chaos on the 27th and 3oth December respectively? I think so, especially if you happen to be a Russian citizen going to vote in less than two months time.
If everything goes according to Sovplan, on the 3rd March this year Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev will swap places. Medvedev would be the Prime Minister and Putin the President of the Russian Federation. Vsjo rovno – an approximate Russian equivalent of Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose .
In the meantime, and I suspect just to keep up the appearances for the Western media, the benign father of whole Russia, and of yet to be annexed territories, Batushka Putin explained to those few of his misguided children who took to the streets of many cities in December 2011 that their opposition to him is futile. Never mind that the post Duma elections demonstrations were the largest since the fall of USSR. He points out, reasonably enough, that they (the rabble) have no leaders, which is almost certainly true, as potential leadership candidates are either dead, jailed, too old or have emigrated to safer steppes. They also have no positive ideas, which may be a slightly different story. “The problem is that they have no single programme,” he said. “They have many individual programmes, but no unified one and no clear way to reach their goals, which are also not clear.” Putin’s assertions resemble those used by Vaclav Klaus and his fellow kleptocrats vis-a-vis the 1999 Czech movement Děkujeme, odejděte (Thank you, leave).
Former US presidential candidate and Vietnam veteran Senator John McCain warned Putin that he faced being overthrown like Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Vladimir did not like it much, “McCain was captured during the war and kept in a pit – it would drive anyone nuts,” he said. An Ex-KGB colonel ought to know.
Veteran dissident Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva is hoping for the best. According to CNN – the 84-year-old said that the next year will be a turning point in the fight, optimism stemming from the recent anti-government rallies that have brought tens of thousands of people to the streets. For decades, Alexeyeva worked with other dissidents risking their lives to expose the human rights violations of the Soviet Union. The empire’s collapse brought hope, but then she realized there was a new adversary. “When Putin came, I thought, doesn’t matter, is normal. We should go a little bit back. But unfortunately is not a little bit. We turned back terribly.” She was so happy she cried when she first saw the crowds on Bolotnaya Square. “Now, they waked up!”
I would like to think she is right. Perhaps she is just forcing her optimism, just as is poor Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. I am afraid that like the Kerensky’s Social Democratic revolution in February 1917 was stolen at the point of bayonet by Bolsheviks in October 1917 and as the velvety revolution of Prague 1989 was stolen by crypto-communists and kleptocrats, and as the various Arab spring semi-democratic revolutions are now being stolen by Islam fundamentalists; so the New Decemberists will have their revolt either stolen or suppressed.
The pillar of the autocratic regime, the Cheka, currently going under the name Federal Security Service (FSB) attempted to persuade some social media to block the “unsuitable” accounts, apparently so far unsuccessfully. The other pillar, the Russian Orthodox Church also sailed into the fray. Its Patriarch Kirill said, “Change is needed, but revolution must be avoided at all costs. If demonstrations ahead of the 1917 revolution had ended in the expression of peaceful protests and had not led to a bloody revolution and a fratricidal war, Russia would have had a population of more than 300 million and would have challenged or maybe even surpassed the United States from the point of view of economic development.”
I wonder what they mix with their frankincense over there.
Russians allegedly always want a strong man, vodzh, fuehrer or at least strict father, batushka czar, batushka Stalin … It may be true, or it may be just a myth perpetuated by the rulers. However, as Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, vodka helps one to forget.