Ambassadors in a Zoo
A “forum of oppositionist forces,” pegged to the upcoming G8 summit, opened Tuesday in Moscow with a series of scandals as grotesque as the gathering itself, comprising a variety of individuals whom the Political Journal referred to as “political microbes.” Seeing that microbes, though often deadly, are not notorious for the amount of noise they make or any particular hooliganism they indulge in, I would rather opt for the Lunatic Fringe Zoo or some such description of the “forum.” Their self-appellation is “Another Russia,” though they might just as well call themselves “Anti-Russia” and be done with it.
Most conspicuous at that jamboree were Eduard Limonov’s National Bolsheviks, for they were entrusted with the rare privilege of organizing the forum’s security. In their enthusiasm they started revising the lists of accredited journalists, and threw out a couple of lady journalists they for some reason took a dislike to. While they were thus engaged, two young gentlemen sporting clean-shaven heads infiltrated the auditorium, scattered anti-Orangist leaflets, yelled “Up the Empire!” at the speaker on the podium (who happened to be Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Moscow Anthony Brenton), and completed their exploits with a poke at ex-Premier Kasyanov’s face (eyewitnesses of the episode report, with visible chagrin, that the punch did not connect as solidly as it might have done). An unseemly scuffle followed as the Limonov security detail overpowered the attacker and carried him outside.
Well, one can sympathize with the Limonov kids. Their Führer promised them they would jump off helicopters, shoot their AKs from the hip, hurl hand-grenades at the enemy and all they have been hurling to date at various public figures has been raw eggs and the occasional packet of cream. The scuffle with Dugin’s “Eurasians” was at least more physical. Interestingly, on this occasion the National Bolsheviks refrained from yelling their most endearing slogan “StalinBeriaGULAG!” One wonders why. Perhaps they feared Mr. Brenton might misunderstand them or understand them too well…
The extreme left, bright-red flank was represented at the “forum” by Viktor Anpilov, leader of the Working Russia movement. It would be interesting to find out, though, if there is much to the “movement” besides the leader. In the ‘90s Anpilov’s babushkas made striking pictures on TV as they marched through downtown Moscow with empty pans on their heads, which they banged with spoons most noisily. Some people said that heads might be employed to better purpose, but the pictures, I repeat, were TV-worthy, no question about that. In the Putin years, though, those empty pans have been filled, the old age pensions are increasing and almost catching up with inflation, and Mr. Anpilov is now only intermittently employed, invariably treating his listeners to Hitler-like yells and gestures and facial expressions to match. Another Russia, indeed… Whenever I see that mug on TV, I recall October 1993 and the aftermath of the red putsch, when that worthy was bodily dragged out of a haystack where he was hiding in fear that the democrats would do to him what he had fervently intended to do to them. He has risen high in the world since then, to be greeted, along with others, by HMA Brenton so warmly as a true representative of “Russia’s real civil society”…
Other members of “Russia’s real civil society” included representatives of that curiously named organization AKM Avangard Krasnoi Molodyozhi (Vanguard of Red Youth). The acronym AKM is clearly intended to coincide with that of Assault-rifle Kalashnikov Modernized. It would again be interesting to learn if Ambassador Brenton got that message and if he did not, what was he doing being an ambassador to Russia? Another interesting question to ask would be this: How would Her Majesty’s government react if some foreign-funded organizations called a similar gathering in the UK and greeted attending Real IRA members as true representatives of real British civil society…
And it is a fact that the gathering at the Renaissance-Moscow Hotel was fully funded by foreign structures Soros’s Open Society and the National Endowment for Democracy (of the latter, the Wikipedia says: “Although administered by a private organization, its funding comes almost entirely from a governmental appropriation by Congress.”) And that is the only feature that all members of the assembled zoo share: red, black, pink, orange they are mere tools in the hands of foreign forces hostile to Russia. Unable to find any other political agents willing to jeopardize their relations with the electorate by figuring too obviously as puppets in foreign hands, these Russophobes scavenged around the lunatic fringes of the political arena and naturally came up with a bunch of real weirdos.
You would have to seek high and low among these members of the “real Russian civil society” to discover a single individual elected by the people. I haven’t. The electoral potential of the zoo members is so close to a flat zero as to be indistinguishable from it. Garry Kasparov’s electoral potential would have to be counted in millionths of a percentage point. Misha “Two Percent” Kasyanov will be beside himself with glee if he gets anything like two percent come 2008 not in kickbacks, as in his prime-ministerial past, but in votes. Unelected and unelectable, that’s what they all are.
People with any claim to political respectability with the Russian electorate have boycotted the gathering. All of them Zyuganov’s Communist Party, the Union of Right Forces, Yavlinsky’s Yabloko, all of them. Valeria Novodvorskaya, that venerable and prominent member of the Russian demshiza, the “democratic psychos,” went so far as to picket the zoo carrying the plackard that said, “Do not attend the councils of the impure!”
Well, foreign ambassadors did not heed that plea. Apart from Mr. Brenton I have mentioned before, mixing with the zoo inmates were observed Canada’s Ambassador to Moscow Christopher Westdal, the prominent US diplomat Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, and smaller fry. What price diplomatic tact, you might ask but you would ask in vain.
A Canadian journalist asked President Putin, in one of the series of interviews he was granting in the run-up to the G8, what he thought of the “counter-summit,” apparently referring to the “Another Russia” gathering. For once, the redoubtable interviewee Putin was stumped he clearly did not understand what the hell she was talking about. The lady prompted him that it had even been attended by foreign ambassadors. The president deadpanned: “Well, if they wish to interfere in another country’s affairs, God help them.”
I somehow do not think that even He will help them. Not in today’s Russia.