The phantom of the orange revolution and bureaucratic ignorance

Two weeks ago the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament State Duma was preoccupied with two very important issues: it adopted the law on autonomous institutions and deliberated on the “orange revolution” threat. The Russian MPs were presented a report under sinister heading “On Presumable Scenario of the US Actions Towards Russia in 2006-2008”. The report assumes that the USA being a hostile state will try to destabilize Russia. And its main weapon in doing so will be corruption scandals involving Russian politicians and businessmen.

One would think it’s not a big deal to prevent such provocations – bureaucrats only have to steal a bit less. If they abstain from taking bribes for a year or two before the presidential election, the alleged “American scenario” would be ruined. Besides, there still will be a chance to make up for the losses after the election. But if things go this way those who ordered and prepared the report will most obviously lose their source of income. That is why protection of homebred corrupt officials from the Western hell-raisers becomes a governmental priority demanding vast investments. Well-minded Russian bureaucrats will most likely spend on this program even more than their self-interested colleagues will steal.

But eventually everyone, including the American part, will be satisfied. The existence of discrepancies between Moscow and Washington doesn’t necessarily imply that the latter wants to change Russia’s existing social order. According to a snide remark of the Biznes newspaper analyst it’s hard to perceive in what way “the present regime in Russia could dissatisfy the US. Authors of the report make obscure allusions to Russia’s growing influence on international affairs as an independent center of power”, though it stays unclear when and where this influence was revealed. There is no evidence that the present Russian regime has abandoned its pro-American stance except for growing anti-American rhetoric from the part of the state propaganda. Another consideration is that to manipulate the corrupt regime is not much more difficult than to manipulate a puppet regime since there exists hidden leverage for influencing the concrete politicians (just think about the off-shore accounts)”.

It’s funny how both the authors of the report and their audience in the Russian Parliament left out of account the fact that Russia had already witnessed a successful “orange revolution” fifteen years ago. Political and cultural underpinnings of the 1991 turmoil in Russia were just the same as in Ukraine in 2004. The “orange revolution” is not possible in Moscow on the simple account that at the present stage the Russian society has gone much further by the way of capitalist development – and by no means due to tricky political technologies of the Russian authorities or the special services’ “preventive” measures. The Russian society ultimately divided into antagonistic classes leaves no scope for broad coalition under the banner of liberty.

And in order to dispel illusions, if there were any, concerning Russia’s capitalist future the State Duma adopted on September 22 the law on autonomous institutions. This law establishes conditions that will ultimately put an end to free education system and publicly available culture inasmuch as it will open up museums and libraries for privatization and liquidation, create ground for commercial usage of school premises and handing them over to private investors. Analysts are unanimous that the new law is a legal basis for an unprecedented cultural catastrophe far worse than the massive looting of the Hermitage Museum – with the present legislative act the government makes such actions legal.

Corrupt practices at school will come to an end inasmuch as education fees will be introduced officially. Coupled with a startling test system in schools and administrative changes that run counter to any administration logic this approach will breed mass illiteracy by the end of 2020. Slightly rephrasing a thesis from the program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union we may say that already the present generation of the Russians will live like in Africa. It’s not about climate change – it’s just that the majority of the Russian citizens will lack the skill to write and speak grammatically.

These apocalyptic forecasts seem now exaggerated as did predictions of the Soviet Union demise in mid-1980s. Actually the only thing that prevents this pessimistic scenario is resistance of the society. The reason why the Soviet Union collapsed was not that Boris Yeltsin or the western intelligence wanted it to happen – it is that the people didn’t intervene to protect it from falling apart. Similarly, mass privatization in 1990s became possible because the protest actions were poorly and ineffectively organized, despite the general aversion to that policy.

Now it’s high time we test how good the Russian society has digested the lessons of the free market economy and logic of the capitalistic relations. If these lessons are not lost upon our society, then the resistance will be effective and going beyond mass protest to harsh back-stage sabotage.

In contrast to contrived “orange threat” the social crisis is gaining ground in Russia. And economic growth fails to alleviate tensions because the goods are as usually allocated, speaking plainly, unjustly.

The gravity of the social situation will become more evident after 2008, but then it will be late to revise the scenario. Unfortunately, now the high-ranking officials in Russia are preoccupied with different problems.

They strive for political stability in 2008. As for the 2009 – they’ll think about it later.

Copyright 2006 Eurasian Home

Leave a comment