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Peaceful protest against the dictatorship – problems and prospects
Participants of the online conference organized by the Free Russia Forum analyzed the experience &# 171; color revolutions&# 187;, &# 171; Arab Spring&# 187; and protests in Belarus
The Free Russia Forum announced its intention to launch a series of online roundtables on the most pressing topics of Russian and international politics. The topic of the first of these online conferences was a continuation of one of the discussion panels of the IX Forum of Free Russia, also held remotely – “The Right to Rebellion in the Modern World”.
One of the moderators of the event, co-founder of the FSR, Ivan Tyutrin, explained the plan by the desire to give the experts participating in the discussion more time to present their position and to communicate with each other. Indeed, instead of the usual one and a half hours that are allotted to each panel, the first Internet conference organized by the Free Russia Forum lasted four hours.
The head of the Russian European Movement Daniil Konstantinov recalled the recent anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the world community. This document, in particular, notes that human rights must be protected by the rule of law in order to ensure that people are not forced to resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression as a last resort. In addition, Konstantinov quoted a fragment of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence of the United States of 1776: “If any state system violates these rights, then the people have the right to change it or abolish it and establish a new system based on such principles and organizing government in such forms that should to best ensure the safety and well-being of the people …. When a long series of abuses and violence … reveals a desire to subordinate the people to absolute despotism, then the right and duty of the people to overthrow such a government and create new guarantees for ensuring their future security “.
Leonid Gozman: “Only those who risk their lives have the moral right to call for an uprising”
The first speaker in the discussion – political scientist and psychologist Leonid Gozman – noted that the future Constitution of the Russian Federation should also spell out the right of the people to revolt. But at the same time he made a reservation, which he later repeated in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America: “The right to insurrection, which is written in the constitutions of some countries, it seems to me, is the inalienable right of any people. But we must remember that one thing is the very right to revolt, and another is the right to call for an uprising. Only those who risk their lives have the moral right to call. Gozman stressed: “When we, citizens of Russia – both those who live in their country and those who for a number of reasons were forced to leave it – are talking about Ukraine and Belarus, we must remember that it was our country that committed aggression against Ukraine and supports the dictatorial regime of Lukashenka. Therefore, our words are perceived through the prism of this fact, obvious to everyone, and which no one forgets “.
In his speech, Gozman also mentioned Vladimir Lenin’s formulation about the conditions for the success of the popular uprising: “Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old and when the ‘upper classes’ cannot in the old way, only then can the revolution win.”.
Gozman added that according to his feelings, Russia is now close to such a situation. However, in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America, he explained that he was not at all optimistic about this. “This transition (from one form of government to another – AP) can be terrible, it can be bloody. It can lead to wild turbulence and even war on Russian territory if it begins to disintegrate, which can happen with a high degree of probability. The revolution can lead to power at some point completely frostbitten adventurers who are capable of starting a world war, ”says Gozman.
Stressing that he does not assess the approach to a revolutionary situation, but only states the obvious for him, the expert continues: “The authorities have no real support from the population. It may be slightly higher than the support of the opposition, because the figures at the head of the opposition are not authoritative. But I do not see people who have strong positive feelings in relation to the authorities, and who pin any hopes on those in power. That is, the government has completely exhausted the resource of support for the population, it is exhausting financial, political and military resources. Therefore, this power will sooner or later collapse “.
Solidarity with Belarus
During the discussion, its participants constantly returned to the events in Belarus. Natalia Radina, editor-in-chief of the Charter 97 portal, noted that protests in her country “have become a way of life.” According to Radzina, the Belarusian society terminated the agreement with the state. In recent months, up to 30,000 people have been in prisons, but despite the ongoing repression, the protest continues. Athletes, teachers, artists and other groups of the population express their citizenship. “I am convinced that we will win”, – said Radzina.
The Lukashenka regime is running out of resources – it is not recognized or supported by the West, it will not receive loans from the European Union. At the same time, the editor-in-chief of “Charter 97” assesses the reaction of the West to the lawlessness of the Belarusian security forces as insufficient. According to Natalia Radzina, it is necessary to disconnect large Belarusian banks from the international SWIFT system, expel Belarusian ambassadors from Western countries, and refuse to buy products from Belarusian enterprises. Radzina also appealed to the Russian democrats to more actively express moral support for the Belarusians. And at the same time – to put pressure on Putin so that he stops supporting Lukashenka, and to encourage Western governments to increase pressure on the Belarusian regime.
At the same time, Natalya Radzina emphasizes that in Belarus there are no preconditions for a forceful version of the protest. Including because, unlike Ukraine, paramilitary formations were not created here..
Andriy Senchenko: “We do not know how to control the power we elect”
Disagreement with this last statement was expressed by the People’s Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the V-VII convocations Andriy Senchenko.
He, as an active participant in the Revolution of Dignity, stressed that during the events of late 2013 – early 2014, there were no paramilitary formations in Ukraine for a long time. And the percentage of possession of registered hunting weapons, according to him, in Ukraine is not higher than in Belarus.
Senchenko also turned to another topic – why, during the rapid seizure of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian military, the Ukrainians did not put up armed resistance. And he recalled that in the Crimean cities and villages, Russian and Ukrainian families, including the military, lived side by side for many years and, as a rule, were on good terms. But the Russians already had experience of military operations in Chechnya and in many other places, while the Ukrainian military did not have such experience, “the Ukrainian politician noted..
Senchenko also said that both the Revolution of Dignity and the Orange Revolution, unfortunately, did not achieve their goals. “We do not know how to control the power that we elect and that comes to power as a result of the revolution,” he said. And he urged not to forget that his country is still undergoing military occupation by Russia..
Elena Galkina: “The second wave of protests will carry out the verdict of Lukashenko’s regime”
The report of the political analyst and Doctor of Historical Sciences Elena Galkina was entitled “The Right to Rebellion and the Trap of Nonviolence for a Revolution of Dignity.” After recalling, following Daniil Konstantinov, that the right to revolt against tyranny and oppression was recorded in 1948 in the preamble to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she continued: “But in many non-Western societies, the right to revolt, like other rights, is recognized and reflected by the collective consciousness just now”.
After the tumultuous events of the “Arab Spring” and the “series of color revolutions,” autocrats and oligarchs in different regions of the world are trying to convince the population of their countries that they have no right to revolt. As examples, the expert cited a number of Muslim countries, Venezuela, Belarus, Russia. In addition, according to her, there is a phenomenon of “unfinished revolution” (Ukraine and Tunisia) or “stolen revolution” (Egypt).
Giving an assessment of the current events in Belarus at the request of the Voice of America correspondent, Galkina noted: “The Lukashenka regime has already lost a significant share of its legitimacy. In particular, the data of a survey conducted by the British think tank in the field of international relations Chatham House show that only a quarter of the population of Belarus considers Alexander Lukashenko “the legitimate president”, “the best president”, “the president who will benefit the country,” and the like..
“As for the prospects of the Belarusian protest, I believe that the position on its principled non-violence was not the key point. The key point is that the Belarusian uprising is currently on the decline. I do not think that it will fail: in the historical perspective of several months, but most likely several years, there will be a second wave, and it will carry out the sentence to the Lukashenka regime. The verdict that was passed this summer, ”says Elena Galkina.
At the same time, at the end of August, the interlocutor of the Voice of America was convinced that Alexander Lukashenko would manage to retain power in the near future: “If we look at the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful revolutions, we will see that for the successful overthrow of the current regime, especially – authoritarian, fast and tough dynamics is needed. For example, in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab Spring, this process took about a month. The key points in both cases was that the army refused to take part in the dispersal of the protesters, because there was a long-standing conflict between the special services and the military. And when it turned out that the police forces were not enough, the dictator turned to the army, but the army elite was against suppressing the uprising “.
“In Belarus, when there was the greatest mass of protests, we saw from the opposition the lack of clear articulation of society’s demands,” Galkina continues. -Plus – the lack of clear tactics and constant statements: “We will not arrange the Maidan.” And Maidan is a fundamental thing, it is not a history of a violent protest, but a history of the consolidation of society and the choice of a point of protest where people come to make this protest permanent ”.
The absence of a “point of protest”, according to Galkina, was a technological mistake of the leaders of the protest movement in Belarus. And the leaders of the power structures, she continues, did not see in this protest such a level of danger when it was necessary to go over to the side of the rebels, or, at least, to withdraw. “And they remained consolidated around Lukashenka,” the political scientist sums up.
Stepan Grigoryan: “We were unable to explain to the people that it is impossible to choose a” savior “”
Stepan Grigoryan, Chairman of the Board of the Armenian Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, spoke about some aspects of the April 2018 revolution in his country. The process of removing Serzh Sargsyan from power was mostly non-violent, the Armenian analyst stated. However, Grigoryan continued, contrary to popular belief, he was not completely non-violent: during the protest, Nikol Pashinyan and his supporters seized one of the radio stations, through the air of which they addressed the people.
At present, according to Grigoryan, Armenia may become the first country where the “imitation revolution” will win. The participant of the Internet conference recalled that in the post-Soviet countries a tradition has been established in which a person who has come to power seeks to extend his stay in power for as long as possible. Moreover, Grigoryan specifies, this applies to both revolutionaries and corrupt officials..
“In Armenia,” the political scientist emphasized, “the people had the right to revolt, because in the previous 20 years, the presidential and parliamentary elections were partially or completely rigged. Now those who oppose Pashinyan are acting in the same ways as he did: blocking the streets, gathering people in the square, and so on. But this is an imitation of the revolution, because Pashinyan came to power as a result of fair elections “.
Grigoryan summed up: “We were unable to explain to the people that it is impossible to choose a“ savior ”. It is because of this that there is now a disillusionment with Nikol Pashinyan in Armenia ”.
At the end of the Internet conference, Ivan Tyutrin promised that the next such event will most likely take place at the end of January..