Democracy. Russia. CIS.

The “Counter-Revolutionary Council” and the Temptations of Foreign Adventurism.

Posted by democratist on April 13, 2012

April 13th 2012,

Democratist has been interested to read that the Duma is to set up a new advisory “Counter-Revolutionary Council” within the parliamentary Committee for CIS Affairs.

According to the April 10th edition of Kommersant, “Moscow is looking for an antidote for colour revolutions and a means to strengthen its position in the post-Soviet zone… the Duma’s Committee is about to form a council that will be tasked to keep tabs on threats to the interests of Russia in nearby foreign countries and design counter-measures against colour revolutions.”

The key word here is of course, “interests.” The notion of “colour revolutions” (the idea that foreign NGOs are able to trick otherwise perfectly content populations to overthrow their autocratic rulers) is such obvious propaganda as to be unworthy of comment – if it were not for the fact that there are so many within the Russian media who remain happy to repeat this nonsense (and the fabricated kompromat which often accompanies it) without engaging any of their critical faculties.

The spectacle of a group of people who largely owe their positions to electoral fraud creating a parliamentary committee to ensure that other authoritarian regimes are able do the same without hinderance, and on the basis that the populations of other countries have been fooled into rejecting the “benign” guidance of autocrats by outside interference, reveal the hypocrisy and self-interest of the ruling elite. Many seem willing to stoop to any fabrication so they can continue to steal for as long as possible, and ensure their business associates and allies abroad are protected.

According to the “Counter-Revolutionary Council”  we are to believe that revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine were the work of American political technologists; but nothing is mentioned of the electoral fraud which was the primary motivation for both of these events: Nothing is said about the abuse of administrative resources by Shevardnadze and Kuchma, or the intimidation, busing, carousel voting and ballot stuffing which were so blatant (especially in the second round of voting in Ukraine in November 2004). We are told that the people who participated in the subsequent Orange Revolution did so for a few Yankee dollars, but nothing is said of the crowds of hundreds of thousands which thronged the center of Kiev during the first days of protest shouting, “No to falsification!” even though it was widely expected that armed interior ministry troops would try to retake the city within hours.

Above all, nothing is said about the position of the Russian government; Vladimir Putin’s open support for Yanukovich in the campaign, nor Russian media support, nor the sources of the funding of the anti-Yushenko black-PR newsheets which seemed to litter every post-meeting park and pavement in Eastern Ukraine back then.

In the creation of the “Counter-Revolutionary Council” we see the (now matured) notion of “colour revolution” for what it is; a deliberate exaggeration of the capabilities and influence of western-backed NGO’s in events which were actually sparked by electoral fraud, and which, more fundamentally, reflected deep social ruptures stemming from the inequalities and indignities of crony capitalism and authoritarianism. This line of propagandizing is not new, and its historical lineage includes examples from the work of the KGB, NKVD, and even the Okhrana. The establishment of this latest body represents an additional stage in the political exploitation of these fantasies, with the aim of justifying repression at home and potentially abroad: If United Russia cheats in domestic elections, the rhetoric of paranoia and the spectre of American interference can be trotted out as justification. If further revolutions occur in the “near abroad” and intervention is required to ensure the interests of the elite and the requirements of realpolitik, the same justification can be applied.

But the “antidote” to colour revolutions does not lie in Duma Committees or “counter measures”. And it certainly doesn’t lie in military intervention; occupied populations quickly rebel.

The historical process of democratization that created the Rose and Orange Revolutions, and more recently the “Arab Spring” will eventually make its presence felt throughout the former Soviet space. As economies grow and populations become more connected with the outside world, this possibility becomes increasingly probable. But Russia must not make the same mistakes that the United States made in Afghanistan and Iraq: It must be wary of the temptation of ill-conceived foreign adventures on the basis of ideological myths (“Neo-conservatism” in the American case, “colour revolution in the Russian). Instead the “antidote” to colour revolutions lies in the acceptance of genuine democracy and self-determination both for Russia itself, and for the “near abroad”.

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