MOSCOW, February 21 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti)
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The leaders of recent “For Fair Elections” protests in Russia are foreign-backed revolutionaries seeking to emulate the so-called color uprisings that rocked former Soviet republics in the 2000s, the organizer of an upcoming Anti-Orange rally said on Tuesday.
“They don’t need honest elections any longer and will not recognize the results of the March 4 presidential polls in any case,” rally organizer and TV anchor Sergei Kurginyan told a news conference. “They are threatening to bring thousands of people out on to the streets and paralyze Moscow.”
Kurginyan has gained prominence of late as a conservative figurehead and was one of the main speakers at a January 4 mass rally in Moscow by supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
“But this is just the beginning,” he went on. “They already say if you don’t want an Orange Revolution, then you’ll get a bloody one.”
The Orange Revolution was a peaceful uprising triggered by suspicions of vote-rigging in favor of pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych at presidential elections in Ukraine in 2004. The revolt led to new polls and the election of Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko.
A ‘Dangerous’ Game
Kurginyan’s rally takes place in Moscow on Thursday, just over a week before presidential elections at which Putin is to seek a third stint in the Kremlin. Demonstrations of support for Putin are due to take place throughout the city on the same day and he is expected to make an appearance at a mass rally in south Moscow’s vast Luzhniki stadium.
But Putin’s bid for a third term comes during the biggest show of dissent since he came to power in 2000. Some 200,000 people have attended anti-government demonstrations in Moscow alone since allegations of vote fraud in favor of his United Russia party at December 4 parliamentary polls.
Putin and his supporters have sought to portray the protests as the work of foreign powers intent on regime change in Russia. In December, Putin accused Washington of backing the demonstrations and said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had given opposition leaders “a signal” that they had acted on.
In an opinion poll carried out by the independent Levada Centre after Putin’s comments, 23 percent of Russian said they agreed the protests were being encouraged by the United States. Another 47 percent were unable to rule this out.
State-run television also aired in January footage of leading opposition figures visiting new U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, at the United States embassy. The report was entitled “US embassy: Receiving instructions from the new ambassador.”
Putin supporters have also questioned the motives of U.S.-educated opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who coined United Russia’s popular, unofficial nickname of “The Party of Swindlers and Thieves.”
But protest leaders have consistently denied they are being backed financially or politically by the West and have accused the Kremlin of playing a “dangerous” game.
“This kind of rhetoric, ‘look at those orange revolutionaries, working for America,’ and so on could easily lead to civil war,” protest organizer and environmental activist Yevgenia Chirikova told RIA Novosti. “The authorities have started working towards dividing society.”
Chirikova’s comments echoed those of presidential candidate and tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov.
“If opposing parties fail to move toward each other, the worst case scenario is a civil war,” he said in late January.
Could Pro-Putin Rallies Backfire?
A pro-Putin rally was also held in Moscow on February 4 and drew a crowd of around 140,000, according to police. Independent eyewitness, including a RIA Novosti correspondent, said the crowd was much smaller. Media reports also said government employees had been coerced into attending the rally. Putin agreed that this could have occurred, but said the effect on numbers should not be “exaggerated.”
But Moscow-based Carnegie Center analyst Lilia Shevtsova suggested that “forcing” people to go to pro-Putin rallies could backfire on the authorities.
“If the authorities keep forcing teachers, tractor drivers, state-bank workers and so on to go to pro-Putin rallies, these people will simply vote against him in March,” she said. “The Kremlin’s actions are providing a catalyst for an Orange Revolution.”
Kurginyan denied on Thursday that people had been either paid or forced to go to the rallies.
“These were good, honest people. I feel ashamed for those who say such things,” he said.
‘If You Want A Fight, We Are Ready!’
In an apparent echoing of tactics used by Orange Revolutionaries in Ukraine, opposition Left Front movement leader Sergei Udaltsov told RIA Novosti in January that he and other protest organizers would urge their supporters to “put up tents and not to leave the streets until the elections are annulled” if they believe the March polls are fixed.
But Kurginyan said on Tuesday that his Anti-Orange movement was ready to counter any attempts to “turn Moscow into another Dushanbe” after the polls. His comments referred to protests in the capital of the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan after disputed 1991 presidential polls. The dispute eventually led to a civil war in which at least 50,000 people died.
“If you want a fight, we are ready for a fight,” Kurginyan said on Tuesday. “We are the majority!” He stressed, however, that he and his followers would prefer to avoid violence.
But despite the hysteria, analysts suggested that there was little chance of an Orange-style uprising in Russia at the moment.
“The political, economic and social factors are not in place right now for an Orange Revolution,” said Alexei Mukhin of the Moscow-based Center for Political Information think tank. He added however that a mass loss of trust in Putin could lead to the “political prerequisite” for a revolt.
“His personal discredit would call into question the results of the March 4 polls,” he said.
And analyst Shevtsova agreed that there was, for the moment, little likelihood of Russia experiencing Orange-inspired change after the March 4 polls, citing the myriad political viewpoints on offer among the bewilderingly diverse protest movement.
“For that to happen, it would be necessary to have political organization and leaders who can offer a clear alternative to the current authorities,” she said. “And I can’t see that happening in the next two weeks or so.”
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- lmPutin keep an eye on them21:16, 21/02/2012Putin watch them closely the West have not finish their game.
- PeacePrevention is better than cure.00:38, 22/02/2012I do have a request to Russian Government to closely monitor the leaders of Anti-Putin movements as well as their communication and financial transactions.
Russia need Putin now because he is the only one who spoke out against the evil in my view. The world is going through big change. I wish if I can write much but I feel I am not so perfect for this but I can mention some points one by one. Which will be happening 100% in near future.
1. Iran will be attacked even if China and Russian against any attack on them.
2. After the war with Iran, There will not be an American Empire and its dollar.
3. Israel will be next world power after the collapse of American Empire.( The preparation is being done in Middle east).
May GOD bless people who want peace.
- bielecIsrael the next world power?07:44, 22/02/2012God forbid, or else we all will be living in one global Gaza Strip.
- ostrogFebruary 4 mass rally23:28, 21/02/2012"Kurginyan has gained prominence of late as a conservative figurehead and was one of the main speakers at a January 4 mass rally in Moscow by supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin."
You are lying. Again. The February 4 rally on Poklonnaya gora was organized by the Anti-Orange committee which has Kurginyan as its chairman. The purpose of this rally was to say "No!" to the plans of organizing Orange revolution in Russia. I was on this rally and there were lots of different people there, both those who support Putin and those who don't.
- ostrog(no title)23:42, 21/02/2012Kurginyan is not a supporter of Putin as various media try to portray him as. He's a steady opponent of Putin's course of europeanising Russia. And he said so himself countless times.
Anti-Orange committee is a Third Force.
- bielec"Putin's course of europeanising Russia"07:58, 22/02/2012So did tsar Peter the Great and Russia only won by going in this direction. Perhaps a better term would be "modernisation". As long as state regulations prevent uncontrolled growth of predatory capitalism, everything will be O.K.
- shanksinhaTime for creation not distruction23:57, 21/02/2012Now when the time has come to consolidate nation building, divisive forces are bent on repeating the sad and catastrophic events of 1991 Soviet collapse. Then as now a handful of jeans wearing burger munching American wannabes Muscovites, goaded by an opportunist politician brought the mighty USSR down. The result was greatest socio-economical catastrophe of the 20th century and wasted decades of 1990s. Now a similar set of so called new generation is again being encouraged to disrupt things by a motely group of opposition forces, made of narrow minded politicians and dishonest leaders.
They may or may not be funded by American money, but they are attempting to jeopardize the future of Russia and using a section of the vocal young generation to do their dirty work. Then as now, it would be criminal for the majority to sit back and watch these misguided people hijack their national interests in the name of lofty ideals. The hollow threats of civil wars are an evidence of the weakness of these divisive forces.
- zoran.jelinicVIVA PUTIN00:32, 22/02/2012From the periphery of Slav world I can only say Putin's Russia is only what keep our hope to future, without strong Russia slavery would be that future for all us, of course in Russia some people who have different opinion of development can express their point of view but until American missiles are on Russian borders it is not good time for that,
Mr. Putin, is not only big leader of Russia but also leader of people who wish freedom from all over the world
- free_mind50Russian Prosperity01:59, 22/02/2012The financial elites of Russia cannot sit idly by while Russia falters or suffers from economic stagnation or chaos of any kind, because their wealth and future prosperity and well being depends upon a stable Russia, as such it is in their interest that the means of economic prosperity be afforded to all Russians as their wealth and well being comes from the people, and the land. Hoarding wealth, resources and running away to safe havens overseas is contrary to civil norms of a civil society and will definitely not stand in Russia.
If they can or will not fulfill that task, then they need to step aside and relinquish the control of Russian wealth and resources of the land that rightly belong to the Russian people.
Prime minister Putin is offering and stepping up to the plate to provide this stable future for Russia, but it is clear that there are attempts at sabotaging him at every turn, politically or otherwise.
- ratnikNavalny is a fruitcake04:19, 23/02/2012Putin will democratically win on March 4, in spite of all the machinations of rabid nationalists like Navalny and in spite of all the subterfuge by western trouble-makers like John McCain. As a Canadian, I am much impressed by both the speed and the efficiency of Medvedev's reforms and I hope that Putin will succeed. But I do note the increased plurality for the Communists in the Duma, and I think this also augers well for the Russian Federation.
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Russia has become very adept in playing the diplomatic game, in which victory depends on choosing the right associate or partner. But there are a growing number of claimants to this role in the new horizontal and interdependent world. Aside Syria and Iran, being still important, the new venues for the application of practical diplomacy may well be Ukraine, the East China Sea and Afghanistan.