Maybe it was to be expected that even the best and brightest in the Russian opposition would start cracking up upon being confronted with the overwhelming evidence of their own failure, starting with the crushing victory of Vladimir Putin at the polls (despite their repeated promises that he’d be forced into a humiliating runoff) and ending with the spectacular collapse of the street demonstrations. Where weeks before a hundred thousand turned out, post election barely a tenth that many did so.
But it’s still tragic to watch it happen to the likes of Vladimir Ryzhkov. Almost like watching a beloved grandpa go round the bend.
First, Ryzhkov signed on to the Obama propaganda express, signing a letter calling for the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment – the sole remaining formal obstacle to the consolidation of Putin’s neo-Soviet empire. Ryzhkov neither extracted from the Obama administration nor even demanded any specific policy to replace J-V as the bulwark in support of human rights in Russia.
The only thing Obama has even suggested he might do in this regard is to divert $50 million from the U.S. Russia Investment Fund to the support of human rights organizations in Russia. He’s not even promising to raise any actual funds, and there is $150 million in the URIF fund so he is only offering a third of it. Obama has not even suggested he’ll appoint any czar-like figure to champion rights in Russia, much less announced any specific meaningful target for the money, and his toady ambassador Michael McFaul is busily doing the exact opposite, in the crass hopes of political gain for Obama. It almost seemed like Ryzhkov was scrambling for a bit of easy cash. Obama has bragged about spending over $150 million already on human rights in Russia. The result? Putin returns to power in a landslide, and not one of his political murders has resulted in justice.
Then, Ryzkov remained silent in the face of brutal Russia-sponsored violence against civilians in Syria and in the face of a horrifying crackdown on homosexuals at home. First they came for the gays . . . It began to seem even more like the only thing Ryzhkov cared about was himself.
And finally, Ryzhkov uttered what must be the single most pathetic statement to come out of the opposition forces since the December elections last year. He mused as he looked out on the puny March protest gathering: “If Putin blocks our protests, we will come back in the hundreds of thousands [to commit acts of] civil disobedience.”
This is a man one used to mightily respect, reduced to blabbering gibberish as ridiculous as the lies the Politburo used to tell. Ryzhkov’s forces had claimed they had drawn 25,000 in the March protest, a shameless lie that overstated their gathering by more than half. And they had been caught red-handed doing the same thing Putin does, paying operatives to carry out demonstrations. In the heady December days, protester-in-chief Aleksei Navalny had claimed he would bring 200,000 and then a million Russians onto the streets, that he would force a rerun of the Duma vote, and that he could storm the Kremlin any time he wanted.
From a nutjob crypto-fascist blogger like Navalny, one can smile and nod at such comments. From a former member of the Duma like Ryzhkov, who had laid claim to the mantle dropped so ingloriously by the ignominious Grigori Yavlinsky, such crazy talk is truly nauseating and disconcerting.
A nice bit of analysis was recently published on the Forbes website in which the authors remind the world: “A classic mistake of public affairs is to blame the choice, rather than the chooser.” Truer words were never spoken. We have been arguing for more than five years now that until the world learns to hold Russians accountable for their abhorrent actions supporting Putin just as they supported Stalin, nothing will change in Russia and Putin will remain entrenched and malignant.
And the most important thing to remember about Ryzhkov, therefore, is that in the final analysis you can take the man out of Russia but you can’t take the Russian out of the man. Russia’s opposition has failed because it is Russian, because nobody has demanded that it be anything else. To the contrary, the craven Obama administration and its lackeys in the mainstream media has actually enabled it.
As long as that’s the case, instead of seeing Putin topple as Ryzhkov bellows and the MSM breathlessly, idiotically repeats like bleating sheep, we’ll see Putin consolidate his power as Brezhnev and Stalin did and, ultimately, destroy the country and take the world along for the ride.