Vladimir Kara-Murza: Leading the opposition in Putin’s Russia – Full interview | VIEWPOINT
The Russian oppositionist believes the mob attack on the US Congress will give Moscow a pretext for referring to these events in disputes over human rights in Russia.
The events of January 6, when the Capitol in Washington was attacked by a crowd heading to the workplace of US lawmakers from a rally in support of President Donald Trump, prompted many comments in Russia..
Representatives of the Russian authorities – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Federal Assembly – made edifying statements about «archaic American electoral system» and «the end of the holiday of democracy», which caused a lot of irony in the Russian segment of social networks.
Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, said in an interview with the Russian Service «Voices of America», that I expected a similar reaction from official Moscow.
Danila Galperovich: You recently, as soon as the events of January 6 took place in Washington, wrote on Twitter: «Expect the schadenfreude of Putin’s propaganda». Your prediction came true?
Vladimir Kara-Murza: Actually, here it was not necessary to have any forecasting talent in order to understand how much they would like it all. The Americans will deal with their problems on their own, and I – Russian citizen, Russian politician, so for me the most important corner – this is a Russian corner. We have already seen several examples of the schadenfreude of the Kremlin propaganda in various forms. – in particular, from the mouth of the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Zakharova and several other high-ranking officials. We remember the phrase, which is not politically correct at the present time. «and your blacks are lynched», which embodied the response of Soviet propaganda to criticism of human rights violations in the Soviet Union by Western countries. Actually, we see the same thing in the reaction of official Moscow in recent days..
D.G.: And how the Kremlin can use these events in the United States?
VC.: What worries me, perhaps most of all, is what has been happening in the last few weeks in America – allegations that the November 2020 elections were allegedly rigged, and now this pogrom on Capitol Hill – all this will help the Kremlin propagandists respond in the same style to well-founded criticism of what is happening in Russia itself. That is why these events are very harmful and dangerous for me. Now, for a long time, every time a Russian opposition politician, a Russian civic activist, a Russian independent journalist will speak at an international forum, for example, at a hearing in the European Parliament about real fraudulent elections in Russia, about the real suppression of the citizens’ right to peaceful meeting, another Kremlin propagandist, or some ultra-right or ultra-left ally of Mr Putin in the West, will stand up and say «and the Americans are even worse, or at least the same», what do they have too «rig elections», what do they have too «violation of the right to peaceful assembly», etc.
D.G.: How can you resist it?
From the point of view of the alliance of the Kremlin regime with the ultra-right and ultra-left marginal in Western Europe, the American events not only on January 6, but all of the last few weeks – these are propaganda trump cards. But I have no doubt that we will definitely beat off these trump cards. Because when people begin to think a little about the situation, really, look at what is happening, they will see that, in fact, there are no parallels. Because, despite all this noise, in America, unlike today’s Russia, there is political competition, there are free elections, there are institutions, there are rules that apply. And on January 20, despite everything that is happening and has happened, there will be a peaceful change of power provided for by the Constitution, again which we have not had in our country for more than 20 years..
It is very important not to fall into this postmodernity, into this post-truth, comparing and equalizing the incomparable. If we talk about falsifications, then everyone remembers what happened in the 2011 elections to the State Duma, when millions of votes were simply thrown in for «United Russia». Everyone remembers what happened in the elections in 2018, when the main opponent of Putin, Alexei Navalny, who gathered thousands of rallies in all cities, was simply not allowed to participate in the elections. This is what real electoral fraud looks like, not the unfounded allegations that we have been hearing in America over the past few weeks. And in the same way, there can be no comparison between the pogrom that took place on Capitol Hill, and how in Russia people deprived of the right to democratic elections go to peaceful protests, and when these people are given three years in prison for a plastic cup allegedly thrown towards the riot police. It is very important to repeat this truth and make this clear distinction..
D.G.: And in Moscow, in your opinion, they realize that this is really incomparable?
VC.: Well, here the point is not what they think to themselves. I think they understand a lot. Probably understand that they – murderers and thieves, that they are usurpers of power, who have been holding power in an undemocratic way for more than 20 years. Let me remind you that the last time that international observers from the OSCE recognized the Russian elections as free and fair were the 1999 Duma elections and the 2000 presidential elections. That is, there have been no free and competitive elections in our country for 20 years. And at the same time, the Kremlin propagandists say some kind of nonsense about the outdated election system in America. That is, the point is not what they understand, but how they behave. What matters is what kind of narrative they deliver to a multimillion-dollar audience..
D.G.: You mentioned several times the ultra-left and ultra-right Western figures as the Kremlin’s aides. How important they are for Moscow as allies?
VC.: It says a lot about the nature of the political system in Russia that in Western countries, where there is normal political competition, forces of this order, people with such views are marginalized, sitting somewhere in the back benches of parliaments, and in our country, in conditions when there have been no free elections for 20 years, these people are sitting in the Kremlin. When normal competitive free elections finally take place in our country, I am convinced that those people who sit in the Kremlin will become as marginal as they are today in free countries.