Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Lesson for Today: August 1991 Coup Failed because KGB Didn’t Support It, Gennady Gudkov Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – Force structures have invariably played a key role in all revolutions, revolts, or palace coups, either by supporting the incumbent regime or supporting its challengers, Gennady Gudkov says; and August 1991 was no exception because in his view, the attempted coup failed because it did not have the backing of the Soviet KGB.

            That fact carries with it an important message to those who want to change the Russian political system now, the opposition politician says. They must stop viewing the FSB and the other siloviki as invariable props of the existing regime and recognize that many in this group are as radical or more so than they themselves (echo.msk.ru/blog/gudkov/2040242-echo/).

            Gudkov says that he is “certain that the 1991 putsch failed to a significant degree because 26 years ago, the KGB, the most politicized Soviet special service, did not support the actions of the GKChP.”  And there was no other force on whom those seeking to seize power could rely with confidence.

            The Moscow section which included “more than 5,000 officers” and in which Gudkov served “more than ten years,” was combat ready and could have acted successfully if its commanders had agreed to follow the orders of the coup plotters. But those commanders, sensitive to the views of their own staffs, refused; and the coup failed as a result.

            “Why didn’t the KGB support the restoration of the CPSU regime?” the Russian opposition politician asks rhetorically. Because “within the special services long before the August 19, 1991 putsch,” the officers of that security service had a clear “understanding of the ideological, moral and professional degradation of the leadership of the country.”

            Many KGB officers recognized that “the CPSU Politburo had led the country into a dead end and that serious changes in the SYSTEM of power and deep reforms of the economy of the country were needed.”  And despite what many might think, they “absolutely freely” discussed this reality among themselves.

            “Paradoxically,” Gudkov continues, those who were repressing people for the system had “real freedom” as to their views about it and were in fact “at times much more ‘anti-Soviet’ than the expressions of many dissidents.” And that “ideological split” was responsible for “the relatively bloodless revolution of 1991.”

            Opponents of the current Putin regime should take note of this reality,” he says, because “a change in power in present-day Russia will also become possible only when the ideas of change come to dominate part of the office corps of the country and become a real force on which the future ‘revolutionaries’ will be able to act.”

            Up to now, Gudkov says, he doesn’t see any evidence that the opposition understands this; but there is plenty that those in power understand the risks to themselves of such a development, especially since the siloviki organizations on which they rely know very well that they are being forced “to defend not the interests of Russia and its people” but of their rulers.

            Anyone who is serious about struggling for power, he continues, who wants “a democratic and free Russia must consider the importance of this aspect of work” and seek to spread the influence of democratic forces “within the force structures. Without that, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to achieve victory over the regime.”



‘Self-Loathing Orthodox Christians’ Emerge as Force to Be Reckoned with in Russia, Sociologist Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – For many years, Western sociologists have talked about “self-loathing Jews,” people who by their origins are Jews but base their identity on denying and opposing everything Jewish. Now a St. Petersburg sociologist is suggesting that an analogous group has emerged in Russia, “the self-loathing Orthodox Christians.”

            Elena  Ryigas, a scholar at the Sociological Institute in the northern capital, says this term refers not to those who call themselves Orthodox but don’t take part in the life of the church but rather to those who are fully “churched” as far as practice is concerned but who dissent from what they see Orthodoxy having become (echo.msk.ru/blog/elena_ryg/2039968-echo/).

                Up to now, these people form an insignificant minority, she writes; but because they are middle class and display a high level of social activity, they are worrying the church hierarchy by their constant raising of “inconvenient questions” about church financing, the election of hierarchs or “simply by citing too often the holy word.”   

            Deacon Andrey Kurayev explains their appearance by the fact that “the Russian Orthodox Church was too rapidly transformed from an oppressed Church into a corporation” which enjoys the full backing of the state and does what it wants regardless of its own rules or the laws of the state.

            Many who can be described as self-loathing Orthodox, Ryigas suggests, might seem to be good candidates for shifting to another denomination altogether.  But instead, they are standing their ground within the church but forming various groups like Stalinists, Mizulinists and Milonovs especially after the patriarch met Pope Francis in Havana.

            According to the sociologist, “the Orthodox church is gradually becoming like one large communal apartment,” in which the original residents are being openly challenged by new ones, some of whom simply assert that they are Christians rather than members of any particular faith, including that of the Russian Orthodox Church.

            In many respects, Ryigas says, “the self-loathing Orthodox are really closer to Protestantism and Catholicism” than to the ROC. They are more active in social work than are traditional Orthodox.  Indeed, in some ways, they are like many who say “’I don’t need the church; God is in my soul.’” 

            As the number of churches have grown, there has been observed a trend toward “self-organization of those believers” who are not prepared simply to obey the priest in all things.  They use the church as a kind of base, but in fact have “emigrated” into a kind of Kitezh in which they are on their own.

            “The relationship between state Orthodoxy and the internal Kitezh city” is complicated. Both say they are for the same things, but the one does one thing and the other something quite different.  And that makes the self-loathing Orthodox a new “variety of religious opposition and even dissent.”

            Such ideological competition can play “a positive role” in many cases, Ryigas says, but not in this one.  The clash between the official church and the self-loathing Orthodox will only grow, she suggests, and last as such religious disputes tend to “no less than 40 years” before one group succeeds in suppressing or displacing the other. 

Ethnic Russians Face Same Challenges American Whites Do, Nationalist Commentator Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – Many have focused on the ways in which Moscow has promoted radical white nationalism in the US and why some American whites view Putin’s Russia as a model for emulation – see, for example, novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/08/19/73526-edinstvennaya-derzhava-gde-u-vlasti-belye.

            But a Russian nationalist blogger, who uses the screen name Yegor Pogrom, says that Russians should see in protests by whites in the US an early warning sign of the challenges that ethnic Russians will soon face and have to respond to with protests and other unspecified means (sputnikipogrom.com/usa/76171/why-care/).

            In the US, Pogrom writes, whites have seen their share of the population drop from 80 percent in 1980 to 62 percent in 2014 and, because their fertility rates are lower than non-whites, they fear that their share will inevitably drop still further. Indeed, in 17 US states, he says, white have seen a decline in their percentage even though in 15 overall population has grown.

            The response of the establishment, he suggests, has been to suggest that whites should celebrate diversity even as they continue on their way to becoming a minority of the American population by about 2040.  For many US whites, Pogrom says, their “country is becoming alien” to them. 

            “The very same situation is occurring with ethnic Russians in the Russian Federation,” he says. Yes, it is true that they still form about 80 percent of the population, but that is temporary and caused largely by Russian flight from Ukraine.  The underlying demographic realities point to a very troubling future.

            “Birthrates in the non-Russian republics are much higher” than in Russian areas, “plus” there is massive immigration from Central Asia bringing which is also changing the ethnic balance of the country, despite the bold words of the Putin government that everything is just fine as far as the nationality question is concerned, Pogrom says.

            “And just as in the US, no one in the Russian Federation is offering any variants for the solution of this problem besides ‘being glad about multi-nationality,” he says.  But the problem is growing, and as Russians have fewer children, age and die, they too will soon decline from 80 percent of the population to 60 percent or even less.

            Russians are encouraged not to worry and to avoid doing anything that might make the situation even worse, Pogrom says; but they should be ready to protest at US whites did in Charlottesville in front of a Kadyrov University in 2040 when North Caucasians begin demanding that statues of Russian heroes be removed because they “offend.”