Anti-presidential protests broke out in Russia and Belarus at the same time. In Russia’s Far East after the dismissal of the governor and fascist Shirinovsky man Furjal in Khabarovsk against Putin, in Belarus mass protests in Minsk against Lukasheko. Whereby one should also consider that Minsk is not the whole of Belarus, just as the West overlooked at the beginning that Kiev and the Maidan are not the whole of Ukraine. After Lukashenko seems to have absorbed the first hurricane well and the USA and the EU are acting very cautiously and moderately, only a few hundred demonstrated in Minsk yesterday. The opposition leader Tichanwoskaja, the wife of a banker and oligarch, who is exiled in the Baltic States, is now calling for further protests, while Lukashenko is now mobilizing the military and wants to deploy them „at the borders“. With no NATO or Russian invasion expected, it is clear that this threat is directed against the opposition.
In Russia, Navalny, the most prominent opponent of Putin, may have been the victim of a poison attack. Not the first attempt and not only at Navalny. In the West, Putin is believed to be behind it, but nobody says it directly. Only the editor-in-chief of Münchner Merkur expresses this with refreshing frankness in his leading commentary and says that anyone who talks about a European security architecture with Russia or a New East Policy could quickly become a victim of appeasement and Putin himself. Navalny had Putin as an enemy, but not only him, as he had also investigated many politicians and governors connected to the Russian mafia for corruption. Putin is no stranger to the method of political murder, and he wouldn’t have any moral scruples. Kremlin critics also believe that Putin wants to behead and decapitate the Russian opposition and also prevent the protests in Russia’s Far East from leaping to the west of the Urals. First Nemzov, now Navalny. In their propaganda, forces close to the Kremlin claim that foreign powers wanted to make Navalny a martyr and thus initiate mass protests in Russia against Putin and in Belarus against Lukashenko. Putin is noticeably reluctant to make public statements in all of this, as if that was not important or as he had nothing to do with any of this.
Nawalny’s family was first denied access to the Russian hospital, this was filled with security forces, so that it was feared that he might die and the causes would be covered up, but now has been transferred to the Charite in Berlin, which is now supposed to treat him and determine whether it is poisoning. However, if Putin has so much to say, it is questionable why he should allow Navalny to leave the country if he had something to cover up. In any case, Norbert Röttgen suspected Kremlin circles behind the possible poison attack, especially since he emphasized that there are whole series of attacks on opposition members, so this is more the rule than the exception. Jürgen Trittin, on the other hand, declared diametrically opposite that Putin probably did not have Russia under control and, in view of this loss of control, he could no longer be considered a guarantor of stability.
It remains to be seen what the Charite’s investigations will reveal and how the affair will develop. It is interesting, however, that nothing more is learned about Nawalny’s vita and political positions. Navalny was a member of a World Fellowship Program at Yale University, then represented what he called „democratic nationalism“. Together with the Alliance against Illegal Immigration and the Greater Russia he entered into electoral alliances and campaigns, and marched in the right-wing Russian March, in which he described Caucasian and Central Asian guest workers as vermin in speeches. He also stood up for the rights of ethnic Russians. For a short time he joined the liberal Yabloko party, but was excluded again because of nationalistic and ethnic positions. Since then, he has been fighting corruption on social media, but has not formulated a clear program beyond that. However, none of this is mentioned with one word in Western media. Slogan: Topple Putin, it can’t get worse, it can only get better. The fact that a Russian AfD man or a Russian Trump with Russia First could possibly be lifted to power doesn’t matter.
Hence two more voices: First Professor Baberowski from the University of Berlin and then the most prominent Putin critic in Germany, Boris Reitschuster, whereby Reitschuster tries to legitimize the nationalism of the opposition as a tactical concession to Putin’s virulent nationalism and his propaganda. But Reitschuster is not sure either.
So Professor Baberowski to Putin:
“You don’t love him. But he has restored order and security. A friend in Moscow who owns a small restaurant once said to me: „Under Yeltsin I was robbed by five bandits a week. Now only once a year, from the state. That is progress. “ What we always forget in the West: Under precarious conditions, authoritarian orders can expand people’s scope for freedom. Life in Russia has gotten better.
In the West, however, they seem to have agreed to reject Putin. How should the West deal more intelligently with Putin or the Russian leadership?
By taking note of the reality of life. By perceiving that the history of the Soviet Union is different from that of the Germans. We should try to understand that. There will be no democratic order in Russia, not in five, not in ten years. You have to deal with this reality. The Russian opposition does not consist of liberals, but is supported by communists and neo-fascists. One should consider carefully whether overthrowing Putin is a good idea. I am also not a supporter of the authoritarian system. But pragmatic politics must face these facts. The federal government in Berlin is proceeding in the same way with Saudi Arabia. „
The Putin critic Boris Reitschuster has to admit the following regarding the Russian opposition, also regarding Navalny:
“Here you read the biggest errors – and the truth – about the opposition in Russia.
The opposition is a democratic alternative
Unfortunately, that’s only partially true. It is a colourful bunch, the spectrum of which ranges from the convinced left to the extreme right.
Liberal heads of the opposition – such as the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov – critizise fellow campaigners that in reality they have less to criticize about the authoritarian system under Putin than about Putin himself.
The opposition is far from being “flawlessly democratic”; should it come to power, which is not foreseeable, Russia would by no means become a constitutional democracy based on the Western model overnight.
On the other hand, a peaceful change of power would be a decisive step towards democracy and freedom.
The opposition is against Putin’s nationalism
Alexeji Navalny, the organizer of yesterday’s protests and hopeful of the opposition, attracted attention with his nationalistic and xenophobic tones.
His supporters claim that these were some time ago and are not the leitmotif of his political statements.
Liberal supporters accuse Navalny and other prominent members of the opposition such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky of flirting with nationalism – for example by expressing understanding for the occupation and annexation of Crimea.
The unfortunately quite numerous nationalist tones from the opposition must be seen against the background that Putin and his propaganda media are massively fueling such moods.
In the fight for the sympathy of the people, parts of the massively battered opposition are trying to ride on this wave. „