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When There Is No Going Back


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“It has been almost 20 years since Russia saw so many people in the streets,” writes Masha Gessen in The International Herald Tribune’s Latitude blog. “The unmistakable sense that everyone is here, that no one is talking about anything but the protests, is distinctly reminiscent of the time 20 years ago,” she recalls.

“The problem with the Soviet and Vladimir Putin’s regime is that they are closed systems whose destruction is unpredictable. There is no obvious cause-and-effect relationship between street protests and the fall of the regime because there are no mechanisms that make the government accountable to the people,” Ms Gessen notes.

“Even the most obvious recent parallel, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, fails as a model,” Ms Gessen says. “The stand-off between street protesters and the government was resolved by the Supreme Court, which ordered a revote.” Russia has no independent justice system, and election laws have been rigged in favor of Kremlin-sanction parties.

“The people who are protesting the stolen election are, in effect, demanding the dismantling of the entire system,” Ms Gessen argues. The fall of the USSR took five years and proceeded with “two steps forward, one step back”: Protests were allowed, then banned, then allowed again. Dissidents were freed, then their apartments raided.

“At the height of the protest movement, hundreds of thousands flooded the streets, defying not only the police but tanks, and yet it was impossible to tell whether their actions had direct consequences — because, just as now, the people had no mechanisms for holding the government accountable,” Ms Gessen notes.

“Once the process was underway, the regime was doomed,” Ms Gessen points out. “The more hot air the regime pumped into the bubble in which it lived, the more vulnerable it became to pressure from the outside. That is what is happening now. It may take months or it may take a few years, but the Putin bubble will burst,” she concludes.

http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/when-theres-no-going-back/


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