Saturday, February 24, 2007

Everything Old is New Again

Don’t Repeat the Mistake of the 1990’s

Maksim Blant

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

April 18, 2007

In Russia the Power Model of governance has taken hold. The diagnosis has been made: Andrey Illarionov has with his usual thoroughness performed a fairly detailed analysis, presented with a wide range of materials, tables and graphics on the website of the Institute of Economic Analysis, which he heads. His recent column in Yezhednevniy Zhurnal (“Approaching Zimbabwe”) presented conclusions from a few of his investigations – conclusions which the authorities more than graphically illustrated the past Saturday in Moscow and Sunday in Saint Petersburg. The completely unwarranted and unprovoked use of force came from only one side – from the side of the government, directed at private citizens. The force was not used to uphold law and order, but quite the opposite, to prevent the people from exercising the rights and freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution and laws of the Russian Federation.

There is no point in doubting that this regime will collapse. The leadership of the Corporation of Special Service Collaborators (KSSS) will be removed from power and, perhaps, placed before a court. But today the leaders, including the President, are nothing but “moles” and “stool pigeons”, operations officers and informers, who started their careers in the Soviet period, prosperously survived the 1990’s, and fit right into the current regime. Fitting right in as well were those who, at the end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s selflessly flailed the “democratizers”, “just following orders.”

The OMON police officers were also just following orders, beating people this past weekend, in the process committing crimes that are punishable under the criminal code (I personally witnessed a series of incidents that I am ready to testify about in any court). The Corporation depends on exactly these executors of orders, because these are what allow it, even after being beheaded, to resurrect itself and quickly resume its struggle for power.

Hiding behind their orders and their depersonalizing uniforms, specially trained and equipped with the “means for suppression”, these people nowadays feel themselves completely above the law, inasmuch as the monstrous government machine of today completely relies on them. And while there is some question as to whether following an illegal order is itself illegal, all of civilized humanity decided this question for itself over a half-century ago – at the Nuremburg trials – but in Russia for some reason many do not consider this truth to be obvious.

All of this leads to some unpleasant thoughts. Even if the current authorities are forced to leave, and this is more than a change in the window dressing, there is no guarantee that the Corporation will not return in time, putting to the forefront figures yet unknown and uncompromised to the general public. For this reason sooner or later we will have to do what was left undone after the breakup of the USSR – we will have to undergo lustration, cleansing the organs of state power of former and active “collaborators”, both clandestine and open.

This is in no way a call for a “witch hunt”, nor a desire to avenge and punish; those who have committed no crime have nothing to be punished for. This action is necessary in order to defend the power of the country from being monopolized by a well-organized, tight-knit and disciplined force, which has its own aims and interests. In addition, the country should place a permanent ban on the profession. No one is suggesting we should dissolve the army or abolish the intelligence or law enforcement agencies. They deserve our respect and admiration when they valiantly perform their proper functions. But not when they start working against private citizens. It is simply necessary to exercise civilian control over their activities, and people who are making a career or considering a career in the intelligence services must understand that the path into the organs of state control, or leadership positions in government companies, has been closed.

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