Mark Galeotti: “Re: 2021-#19-Johnson’s Russia List (Irrussianality)”
Subject: Re: 2021-#19-Johnson’s Russia List (Irrussianality)
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2021
From: Mark Galeotti <email@example.com>
January 26, 2021
HOW NOT TO HELP THE RUSSIAN OPPOSITION
By Paul Robinson
University of Ottawa
I am more than just name-checked in Paul Robinson’s latest exposition on how other people get things wrong but positively elevated:
“The prize for worst advice, however, surely belongs to Mark Galeotti, who posted the following on Twitter:
“”I’d also like to see diplomats accompanying marchers in hope moderates state behaviour and esp media crews covering protests.”
“One can scarcely conceive of anything better designed to justify the authorities’ claims that Navalny and his supporters are in the pay of the West. Let’s imagine that Russian diplomats accompanied protestors in the United States or some other Western country – the outrage would be enormous. Why would it be any different in the case of Western diplomats joining political protests in Russia?
“And just imagine what the Russian media would make of such a thing? They’d love it – pictures of Western diplomats ‘interfering’ in Russian affairs would be all over the TV, allowing the talk show hosts to make hay with claims that it was proof positive of how the protests were being orchestrated from abroad. It really is a truly misguided suggestion.”
Of course we all have our own opinions, but let me just note a few brief points:
1. The Kremlin’s toxic propagandists do not need facts to generate their paranoid accounts – as we have already seen when even the MFA claims that the US Embassy was responsible for organising protests and that Navalny is a paid agent. To allow fear of how they might be misinterpreted to define our actions would seem as pointless as it is supine.
2. It is not as unusual an act as Prof. Robinson seems to believe. Indeed, back in Cold War days, US diplomats would sometimes openly attend marches and rallies in the Soviet Union. Pravda would grumble and a proforma protest made, but it was a valuable way of both gathering direct impressions on the ground and demonstrating support for causes deemed worthy. Or are we to assume today’s Russian leaders are more intolerant and paranoid than the Soviets’?
3. Prof. Robinson continues
“But it follows a pattern. Underlying a lot of these proposals is a sense that Russia is teetering on the brink of social collapse and political revolution. ‘Acting together, the West can send Mr Putin reeling,’ claims The Times. The West must prepare for Russia’s inevitable ‘rupture’, says Janusz Bugajski, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC, in an article for the Washington Examiner.”
I would be fascinated to know how he concludes that I believe Putin’s Russia is on the brink of either social collapse or political revolution. Indeed, I have repeatedly said and written that I do not see any imminent change. Nor, for that matter, do I believe that anything the West can do will “send Mr Putin reeling” – or indeed that the West should try and effect regime change. Again, I have often said that this is at best impossible and at worst downright disastrous.
But perhaps, like so many RT columnists, in whose ranks he seems increasingly to feature, he knows the hearts and minds of Western critics of the current Russian government better than they themselves?
Dr Mark Galeotti