Russian Liberal Infighting Continues

In an article this weekend for RT (which you can read here), I discuss the latest bout of infighting among Russia’s small liberal opposition. In this instance, the Yabloko Party has refused to let associates of Alexei Navalny run as candidates for the party in forthcoming elections. In addition, party leader Grigory Yavlinsky declared that he didn’t even want Navalny supporters’ votes. “Whoever wants to vote for Navalny, don’t vote for us,”  he said. In my article, I discuss what might lie behind Yabloko’s anti Navalny stance.


8 thoughts on “Russian Liberal Infighting Continues”

  1. I think, that the regular commentariat of the Itussionality, should rejoice, after reading and internalizing the meaning of this quote, taken from Mr. Robinson’s abovelinked article:

    “ Good government relies on accountability, for which a strong opposition is useful. In Russia’s case, that means something rather better than Gennady Zyuganov’s Communists or Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s right-wing LDPR. It would great if Russian liberals were up to the task

    As everyone would agree, it’s very heartening to see Mr. Robinson, as self-professed liberal and fanatical supporter of the capitalism, to, finally, become aware of his own privilege, and willingly decided to embrace the equity, aka “the sameness of the result” thingie, adopted by what the Westerners call “Progressive Left”. Let us give him a round of applause!

    [*Round of applause ensues*]

    Now, some people might ask a question: “Maybe one Paul Finlay Robinson is merely deeply, unimaginatively ignorant of the bourgeois democracy’s true nature?”. Well, the only correct way to respond to such a naïve question is with laughter (due to its form and hilarious, meme-prone, ah, “content”)… and then with even more laughter. For, surely, Mr. Robinson who [checks the RT descriptor] “writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history, and military ethics” is well aware of the bourgeois democracy’s true nature… especially, when it pertains to Russia:

    Major oil companies were not happy with the [tax] proposal. He says “a representative of the company Yukos” approached him on the night before the new law was to be discussed by the Duma and told him that they’d made an agreement with all of the deputies. As a result, the ministers were given a choice: they could either not take the proposal to parliament, or they could “be taken out [feet first]”.”

    See? Mr. Robinson knows that in the bourgeois democracy’s parliamentaries, ultimately, represent business interests – one way or another. So he *must* know, that Yabloko’s and all other so-called “liberal” so-called “Russian” political parties woes for the last… 20+ years (wow, that’s a long time!)… are due to the fact that no representative of the capital deems them as a valid investment, in order to lobby one’s interests.

    [Pwning most notorious oligarchs also helped]

    OTOH, it must mean that Russian capitalists (people dear to the heart of any self-professed liberal across the globe as these “rugged individuals” who “self-made” themselves) find it more useful to fund exactly the parties that Mr. Robinson routinely find to deplorable. A cognitive dissonance for the one, beholden to the Western Socio-Political Orthodoxy is guaranteed.

    That’s why Mr. Robinson’s valiant decision to embrace “equity”! After all, his chosen darlings already demand paying and repenting (repenting and paying) and a new round of the monument toppling extravaganza. Liberast Lives Matters ™!

    Some doubtlessly black-hearted, uncouth and simply unhandshakable bydlo people might also ask, whether this final paragraph rhetorical hand-wringing on behalf of Professor Paul F. Robinson is just another example of a commonplace egotistical hypocrisy, rearing its ugly normative non-conforming head after so much effort had been wasted on appearing “impartial” and “unbiased”?

    Laughter! Only even more laughter is the only honest answer one can give to these doubting souls!


    1. lytt,
      well aware of the bourgeois democracy’s true nature

      not that it matters much, but no doubt “bourgeois” and “la bourgeoisie” was quite a bit in the air, when I was I young. Not so much today.

      I stumbled across a coinage that felt similiar but makes a lot more sense in our present economics and marketing domintating context. i wish I would recall, just now.


  2. Completely off-topic, otherwise hoping you are well.

    On a train ride, I discovered a book by a for me so far completely unknown author. Strictly, my habit is to look for a book for my partner on my way back at that station’s bookshop.

    But today I discovered a fictional rendering of the friendship between Александр Егорович Врангель and my spiritual friend Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский by Jan Brokken.

    Admittedly, I haven’t read any fiction since 2001, it feels, but the book seems to fictionally circle around precisely around that chapter in Dostoevsky’s vita that always fascinated me.

    Hoping you your readers are well too. 🙂


  3. Russian Liberalism has a fundamental problem: the 1990s. For any Russians over the age of 30 it makes Liberalism a dangerous, destructive ideology and is likely to throw up memories of the worst time of their lives. When Lilia Shevtsova summed up the Yeltsin years by writing “One the hand for most Russians it was the most trying time of their lives, one the other hand …” I immediately stopped reading and thought ‘there is no on the other hand!’

    Unfairly Yavlinsky has paid a political price for that, as we was always opposed to the ugly sides of Russian Liberalism. Still, his bigger problem is that as the Yeltsin years revealed for most Russian Liberals what mattered less was political Liberalism, than economic Liberalism. Indeed Russian Liberals cheered when Yeltsin used force in October 1993. The Putin administration, one might say system, is quite economically liberal in a number of ways and there is considerably more freedom in Russia in any number of expressive than it was under the USSR. Still for most Russians of liberal leanings, United Russia can sate their desires and they can live with it. And if United Russia does they can vote for Just Russia (another one of the endless spoiler parties the Kremlin has spawned since 1993 to trip up the Communists).

    For Western Liberals determined to see, to paraphrase Stephen F. Cohen discussing how Western Liberals interacted with Russia in the 1990s, ‘the Russia that we want’, there is another problem and that is that for the moment political Liberalism in Russia, as we imagine it, is not a viable political movement to hold power. The alternatives are someone like Putin, the Communists (albeit they would be a reforming force rather than a radical one in power), or outright fascists. Given what happened in the US on 6 January 2021, given what is happening to the UK now, and given who Navalny likes to associate with, this should give Western Liberals pause.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Feel like I have to respond to the “January 6 in the U.S.” thing.
      Using some set theory here:
      In the set of {“all events in the world that have been attempts at a fascist coup”}, the events of January 6 do NOT belong in that set, IMHO.

      I would more like place it in the set of {“all ridiculous events in the world wherein a guy dressed in horns and a Chewbaca bikini asserts the peoples right to inspect their government buildings”} – LOL!

      On my own blog, I called these characters “Hitler’s legion of Idiots” (in jest, of course.) I also made the point that, had not there been people who actually died there, which just made it sad; otherwise it would have been funny. Just because Nancy Pelosi clutched her pearls in front of the burning Reichstag, don’t make it a fascist coup. I mean, these were just basically disgruntled Trump voters egged on by FBI provocateurs.

      (I can say that because some journalists actually put in a FOIA request for the transcripts, and they came back mostly redacted, with so many names blacked out, there was almost nothing left in the report!)


    2. what’s the exact human difference between Lilia Shevtsova and Putin? both careers started in the Soviet union on one hand?

      “One the one hand for most Russians it was the most trying time of their lives, one</strike the other hand …”

      I cannot test this. But interesting hint: Lilia Shevtsova


      1. Ok, I’ll try again:
        One one hand for most Russians it was the most trying time of their lives, one the other hand …”


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