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Aftermath: Human Beings Agains Faceless Regime in Russia

Posted 23/12/2011

By Inna Rogatchi 
© Inna Rogatchi, 2011

First published in The BALTIC TIMES, December 22, 2011


More than twenty years ago, I wrote in my book The Shattered Generation that it would need a generation for the Russian people to start to see things as free people do. 

The last decade of life of a normal human being in Russia seemed for many as time wasted, and reminding one of a squirrel's circling in its cage; a bit better illuminated, maybe. 

Those people have been proved to be wrong now, - with thousands of young, intelligent Russians streaming out on the streets of Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Rostov-on-Don, protesting a shameless cheating on their vote during the recent elections. Importantly, those are neither 'professional' protesters, nor marginalised extremists, not to speak on massively organised puppets of Nashi and similar pro-Putin" movements. 

In the downtown areas of the biggest cities all over Russia, there was Russia's future protesting fiercely, being insulted and outraged by the regime's arrogant dismissal of their vote and their will. Those are educated, thoughtful and conscious people who are completely fed up with the quantity of dirt they have to live with and in, thanks to the nature, characteristic and behaviour of the regime in their country. Most of them never went to the streets before. 

"I am a HUMAN BEING, return my stolen voice to me!" - was a hand-made poster in the hands of a young female student in St Petersburg. "A HUMAN BEING" was underlined twice, by an imperfect hand-drawn line. Can the current Russian leadership read the hand-writing of their citizens? Do they care? Does not seemed to be the case, - judging on the authorities' reaction; the protests are suppressed everywhere with violent and disproportional force designed to frighten people off the streets. The regime acts being completely blind and arrogant-as-usual.

But it also is clearly nervous: the urgent troops' dislocation into the Moscow streets; the amazing statement of Putin'spress-attache in his interview to BBC the morning after elections to distance his boss from the United Russia party and to present him as 'an independent politician'; the use of dirty cursing language in President Medvedev's tweet defending the party he leads, - all these are signs of the authorities' anxious unease.

They obviously underestimated the new generation of their people. Normal, decent people who are refusing to live as manipulated shadows, and who are shouting tirelessly "Russia without Putin!" and "Mubarak - Qadaffi - Putin!" on the Russian streets today.

Yet more of those people are openly laughing all over the Russian internet on the pathetic efforts of their quite mediocre leaders to try to discipline them with police sticks. It is a rather hopeless tactic in the time of social networks.

To convince the growing number of the Russian new generation in genuine leadership skills, - and not the least, some positive human qualities - it clearly needs far more from those who are nervously jiggling on the top of the power pyramid there now, than be acclaimed as an internet freak as their outgoing president, or to be somewhat addicted to public macho-biking exercises as Mr. Putin tends to.

It also requires a huge machinery of the Russian state apparatus, its institutions, and an army of its officials to act in the way they themselves would like to be treated, - a simple rule of mutual respect: to be respected, respect others.

Would a Moscow judge whose name has become rather a symbol of lawlessness, would she like to be sentenced to prison detention on the charges of 'obstructing the power of the authorities' on the ground that the person 'did step on the transportation part of the street, and was shouting 'this is our city!' - as she has made her verdict regarding the famous Russian anti-corruption fighter Alexey Navalny, one of the indisputable leaders of the new wave of the Russian conscience today?

The episode with the judge, and many similar ones - like the counting of the votes of people dead for 15 years, or exemplary pro-United Russia voting in psychiatric hospitals - illustrates once more on which ground that huge country has been widely called Absurdistan among its intellectuals for the whole of the last century, from the time when the Bolsheviks seized power on.

But there is the surprise which Russia's new generation has for the country's leaders now: they do not want to live in Absurdistan any longer. Not interested.

This is the turning point in time for the Russian social psyche now, - when people in this traditionally dictatorial country started to not just feel but to behave in an open and decent way; being free. Their quantity and determination, their honesty and bravery make one to respect them and their values. It clearly is the unmistakable mark of freedom which has now born fruit also in Russia, a generation after the monstrous USSR has collapsed.

A very short message for any arrogant mediocre statesman: human beings always prevails. 

December 2011 
Turku, Finland 
© Inna Rogatchi, 2011

INNA ROGATCHI is the writer and the president of The Rogatchi Foundation. Her new book on modern history, The Human Connection, is due to be released in 2013.

First published in the Finnish Aamulehti daily on December 8th, 2011.

Copyright © 2017 by the Inna and Michael Rogatchi Foundation. All rights reserved.