Russian politics: a view from Lithuania

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On Thursday, May 30, a regular forum began in the Lithuanian city of Trakai, the participants of which discuss the political prospects of Russia.

“We have no goal to get involved in the internal life of Russia”

The event is held under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. In this regard, the Head of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius In an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America, he noted that this forum can be considered traditional, since it is being held for the sixth time in a row, since it met the expectations of both the organizers and participants in the discussion.

According to Linkevičius, “The goal was to establish a constant dialogue between civil society in Russia and Western colleagues, so that one could communicate, discuss in an informal setting. And second, so that representatives of civil society in Russia could talk among themselves, which is also very important, because in Russia itself there are no such conditions ”.

Experts from many countries, including Russia itself, as well as Ukraine, the USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Australia and other countries come to Lithuania to share their views on the present and future of Russia. All participants express their views based on their own experience, and since the Forum is being held for the sixth time, it is possible to follow in dynamics how the situation in Russia changes from year to year: “what has changed over the year, how is the dialogue being conducted, is it being conducted effectively, is it persecuted? we are the right goals. What is the situation in civil society, the situation in the media, freedom of speech, human rights and so on. After all, this is one of the channels of communication with Russia. If the Kremlin thinks that only they are such a channel, then we do not think so. Russia is a big country, there are many different opinions and not only the Kremlin, but others also have a right to exist “.

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister also stressed the importance of the fact that one of the working languages ​​of the Forum is Russian. “We speak with Russia in Russian about the future of Russia. We have no goal of getting involved in the internal life of Russia. This is not our business either morally or legally. It is up to the Russians themselves how they will act. But we feel that we can understand them, listen to them and, perhaps, convey some ideas to our colleagues in the EU, OSCE, Council of Europe, and this is also very important, ”Linas Linkevičius said..

The Russian authorities and the pro-Kremlin media are very sensitive to any uncontrolled attempts to discuss internal political issues that take place outside the Russian Federation. This also applies to the Vilnius Forum of Russia. Linas Linkevičius, in a conversation with the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America, said that one hundred sides of the Russian Foreign Ministry “there is a very harsh reaction, followed by statements that we allegedly spoil relations, incite Russophobia”.

But even such a position has a right to exist, says Linas Linkevičius. And he adds: “But protecting the rights of Russian speakers in Russia itself is no less important than protecting their rights in other countries. We make sure that the rights of Russian speakers in Russia itself are reliably protected “.

By the way, on the opening day of the next Vilnius Forum of Russia, one of the halls in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania was named in honor of Senator John McCain.

New Ostpolitik, Magnitsky Law and Zero-Sum Principle

As for the very course of the discussion, its participants, in particular, reproached the Western countries that they often put interests above principles. The title of one of the sessions of the forum included the term “Ostpolitik” (“Eastern Policy”), introduced into circulation in the first half of the 70s by the then Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Willy Brandt. The term implied that official Bonn recognizes the existence of the pro-Soviet GDR and postpones the country’s reunification for an indefinite future. During Brandt’s time, trade relations between the FRG and the USSR intensified..

In this regard, the forum participants tried to understand whether in response to expect the emergence of “Westpolitik” (that is, Moscow’s new policy towards the US and the EU) and the Kremlin leadership’s adoption of the “win-win” principle (that is, without the defeated) instead of the usual Russia zero-sum formulas (when the winner takes all).

In accordance with the “Chatham House Rule” principle adopted at this event (that is, retelling the main ideas without attribution), the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America notes that the participants of the first day of the Vilnius Forum of Russia raised the following problems. Western democracies must support Russia when it gets on a democratic track. The fight against corruption and “dirty money” from Russia must become universal. Russia exports corruption, but there is no export without import – Europe must put things in order in its own house. Opportunities for Western countries are severely limited. Despite the harsh rhetoric, there are no notable changes in Russian policy.

The Russian democrats participating in the Forum turned to Western politicians with approximately the following words: “We will cope with all the problems ourselves, we only need you to stop helping Putin. The government steals in Russia, and spends money in the West “.

The following fact was also mentioned: in 2012, the United States was the first to adopt the Magnitsky Act. According to this act, the people involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky cannot now come to the West and spend the money received in Russia there, and there they cannot export corruption. But only six countries have taken similar steps.

Russian liberals also stated with regret that they could not find justice in their country, therefore they had to look for it in the West. And civil society in the United States and the European Union should be concerned that Russian corruption is doing its best to suppress Western values. And this trend can only be resisted by joint efforts..

Russian politics: a view from Lithuania

“There is a quiet civil war in Russia now”

During the discussion, the Federal Law No. 121, adopted in the summer of 2012, was also mentioned – “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding the Regulation of the Activities of Non-Commercial Organizations Performing the Functions of a Foreign Agent”. In common parlance, this law is called “On NGOs – Foreign Agents”.

Forum participants discussed whether it is possible to convince Russian fellow citizens that the so-called “foreign agents” are actually working for the good of their country?

Public figure and politician Gregory Amnuel on the sidelines of the Forum, he told the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America that, in his opinion, one should not be ashamed of the label imposed by the authorities, but should act in accordance with one’s conscience: “Our planet is getting smaller and smaller, and in the worst case we cannot go “far, far away”. The boundaries that exist between Russia and the conventional West are in our mentality, in our brains “.

Amnuel noted that he does not hope that noticeable changes in Russia will occur not only during his lifetime, but also during the life of his children. After all, if in the Baltic states Soviet power existed for forty-five years, then in Russia – more than seventy. During this period in Russia, “the roots were pulled out and destroyed. There were attempts to restore them, to reconcile the “red” and “white”. It didn’t work out. There is a quiet civil war going on in Russia now. It is in the brains of people cut off from history. And how long it will take for the emergence of new roots is unknown “, – says Grigory Amnuel sadly.

On the second day of the Forum, its participants will discuss internal Russian problems. In particular, the reasons for the fall in the ratings of the Russian president, the level of the “pain threshold” of the fall of the Russian economy for the country’s population, the tightening of censorship in the Russian media and the failure of attempts to unite Russian democrats.

Russian politics: a view from Lithuania

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