By Paul Goble
Russia’s liberal opposition still dreams about a peaceful transition of power; but the way in which the Prigozhin mutiny occurred shows that such dreams are without foundation and that the opposition must recognize that the coming transition will likely be anything but peaceful, according to Vladimir Pastukhov.
Dreaming is fine, the London-based Russian analyst says, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the goals of those doing it. Unfortunately, declaring that the transition from Putinism will be peaceful plays into the hands of the Putin regime which as the Prigozhin episode shows is prepared to use any means to hold onto power (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=64A164B71D5BD).
“A peaceful transition of power is unfortunately possibly only to the extent that one of the parties to political confrontation can count on the fact that its surrender of positions of power without armed resistance can be compensated by real guarantees of the preservation of its freedom, property or at least life.” In Russia today, that is not the case.
The Prigozhin case is “a clear illustration of what [the people in the Putin regime] are capable of doing when it comes to their personal well-being.” This fight was about budgetary flows, and so “it is hard to even imagine what they will be prepared to do if it comes to their collective survival” in power.
According to Pastukhov, “there are no non-violence means” for changing this regime. They were “cut off when it launched the war in Ukraine. From that point on, all compromise strategies for exiting the crisis were nullified. This is the brutal truth about Russia and its future and we must learn to face it.”
“A violent upheaval is inevitable, and the Russian liberal intelligentsia will have to learn how to respond,” he continues. “But that is only half of the truth about the situation.” Most likely the coming conflict will involve “a coup of blacks against grays;” and the biggest mistake the opposition can make is to side with the grays because they’re better than the blacks.”
Instead, the Russian democratic opposition must “get used to the idea that nothing can be worse than the current grays.” And that means this: calling for the defeat of the regime in Ukraine “is the only practical working formula for saving Russia, even if this Russia turns out to be a civil war.”