Overthrow Putin & Give Back Crimea: What Was Proposed at the “Free Russia Forum”

The pre-anniversary IX Free Russia Forum (FRF), which was previously held in Vilnius, was held via videoconference due to the coronavirus situation. According to the organisers, the change in the format did not affect the quality of the discussion. One can’t argue with this: from year to year, forum participants voice a standard set of theses about building a beautiful Russia of the future, which often boil down to the idea of dividing it into “ten bleeding pieces”. This time the focus of the flesh tearers also included Belarus.

Day 1
Day 2

One of the most interesting discussion panels of the FRF was entitled “The right to revolt: prospects for non-violent revolutions”. Its participants drew attention to the fact that a large number of dissatisfied demonstrators is not a reliable guarantee of regime change. This was clearly demonstrated by Venezuela and Belarus.

“It is impossible to remove dictatorships like Putin’s or Lukashenko’s regime by peaceful means in our time,” agreed sociologist Igor Eidman. Moreover, in Belarus, he observes the strengthening of the current government: protest activity is not increasing, the president is winning back his position.

The moderator of this bloc Ivan Tyutrin summed up the disappointing results: “The current discussion showed that if you remove the emotional component, but instead make calculations and analyse the experience of other countries, it seems to me, unfortunately, in a situation where you are dealing with a strict authoritarian regime, purely non-violent methods do not lead to the desired results. If the security forces are consolidated, if the elites do not disintegrate and as a result of pressure, there are no plots against the dictator, there are actually not so many mechanisms for bringing the revolution to its logical end. Especially when the existing regime is ready to go all the way”.

The participants of the “Belarusian” discussion panel should be given their due: they are not in the clouds and recognise that Lukashenko emerged victorious from the battle with the opposition.

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Calls for the violent overthrow of the government during the conversation arose themselves. But Tyutrin explained why he does not give advice to his Belarusian and Ukrainian comrades – because the Russian opposition itself has achieved nothing in the field of revolutionarily overthrowing the government. And how can he advise something, being a citizen of the “aggressor country”? When the “Russian aggression” began in Belarus, one can only guess…

But the former vice-president of Yukos, Leonid Nevzlin, did not restrain himself and recommended that Belarusians attack the security forces.
“I really liked the Kyrgyz version, when they surrounded the riot police with a crowd and beat them properly. Because there are still a lot more people, and in a close engagement, neither weapons, nor gas, nothing matters; they just need to be taken and beaten, because there are a lot more people, but, unfortunately, Belarusian people are not as aggressive as Kyrgyz people,” Nevzlin said.

Unfortunately! We thought that the calm nature of the people of Belarus is their dignity.

But the instigator Nevzlin, who lives in Israel, regrets the lack of bloody clashes on the streets of Minsk.

Former State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev spoke at the panel session “The Kremlin’s foreign policy strategy in modern conditions”. Here, perhaps, is his deepest thought: the main task of the Nord Stream 2 project is to strengthen the geopolitical position of … Germany, which allegedly acts as the main lobbyist for Putin’s economic interests in the west.

This is probably why the ruling German CDU/CSU party consistently rejects all opposition initiatives aimed at improving relations with Moscow, and regularly imposes new sanctions against Russia.

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Many “brilliant” thoughts were expressed during the discussion about the future Constitution of Russia. Of course, the “Putin” amendments do not suit any of the speakers — the current version of the basic law of the state should be thrown into the dustbin of history immediately after the “overthrow of the tyrant”. And then opinions were divided. For example, doctor of law Elena Lukyanova considers it possible to work with the 1993 version of the constitution. This is opposed by political scientist Aleksandr Kynev: the country needs a completely new document.

It is not clear what kind of country we are talking about, if the participants of the FRF for the most part do not see anything terrible in the “dismemberment” of Russia.

Some even say that it would be good to create several independent states on the territory of the Russian Federation.

“It is well known that with the perturbations that are waiting for us, it is very likely that some territories will withdraw from the Russian Federation. It is clear that the withdrawal of the North Caucasus looks very likely, and the formation of the Ural Republic is less likely, but all this is possible,” said Leonid Gozman, President of the Union of Right Forces. In an effort to “dismember” Russia, he suggests that the constitution prescribe specific mechanisms for the withdrawal of territories from the country.

We will assume. But what about the “Putin” amendments aimed at protecting the territorial integrity of the country? Citizens supported the inadmissibility of alienation of the territories of the Russian Federation in a referendum. If Gozman and company consider this referendum to be “fake”, then let them hold their own. Let them offer the Russians to vote for the surrender of the Caucasus, the Urals, and so on.

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Even dreamers like the members of the FRF can foresee the results of such a referendum. Therefore, they do not talk about any expression of will: let’s just “squander” the territory of Russia. Because we want to.

The forum creator Garry Kasparov went the farthest when he decided to speculate about the fate of Crimea. Other liberals (for example, Kseniya Sobchak) talk about the need to hold a new referendum on the peninsula. But Kasparov thinks otherwise. Who needs these democratic procedures?

“There should be no referendums. The transition period should in no way be accompanied by negotiations — there is nothing to negotiate over. The decision to return Crimea to Ukraine’s control must be made immediately,” the chess player said.

Again, the immediate surrender of Crimea can only be illegal, since the current version of the constitution prohibits such actions. But Kasparov doesn’t care. In his “free Russia”, people who do not bother to comply with the basic law of the state are supposed to reach power.

And there is no need to ask the opinion of the people. The “best minds” will figure it out for themselves.

It is funny that the participants of the FRF at the same time accuse Putin and Lukashenko of authoritarianism. I would like to ask: what style of government do you suggest, gentlemen?

Compared to Kasparov, the current presidents of Russia and Belarus look like benchmark democrats.


Aleksey Ilyashevich

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