Grigory Pasko: Response to Reader Comments

(editor’s note: following Pasko’s first two submissions, reader La Russophobe posted a number of questions in the comments section. Grigory sent in the following response – but given his travel schedule and the logistical challenge of translation, he will not be able to respond to comments on a regular basis.) 1) I think it’s rather clear, in light of the Litvinenko and Politkovskaya killings, and the Gaidar attack, that Grigory is now a potential target. In principle, the author of the question properly understands the essence of what is taking place in Russia. Except that it’s not just I who am a potential victim. Naturally, postings in blogs such as this do not remain unnoticed by those whose job it is to keep track of me. Furthermore, I think that Anna Politkovskaya was killed more not for her articles published in Russia, but precisely for her appearances and books published abroad. But even being aware of all this can not make me refuse any opportunity to speak the truth, to speak that which I see, think, and feel. This isn’t a death-wish or fatalism, it’s what is called –perhaps somewhat grandiosely, but accurately – the duty of a journalist. All I can do is cling to the feeble hope that I’m not at the very top of the list of potential victims. Suppose an attack were made. What would be the best response the West could make? Let’s just suppose that I’m going to live a long and happy life and will one day write a book about winemaking in the countries of the Mediterranean basin. And then the best response of the West would be to buy this book and develop winegrowing in new countries (thanks to global warming). What can we do now to help protect Grigori, and other Russians like him? People in my situation are unprotected on a very basic level – we don’t have permanent jobs, and are forced to constantly be on the lookout for a chance to earn some money. One way to help us is to provide us with opportunities to work. I know some top-notch journalists who have been forced by circumstances to leave the profession. That is, to do what is advantageous for today’s power. Why don’t they all get together and create a website where their work can be consolidated and easily found? That’s a question for those who have the money for publishing newspapers and magazines and for maintaining websites. There are such people in Russia and abroad. But I don’t know why they haven’t consolidated their forces to create influential, united mass media outlets. On the other hand, maybe it’s better this way: shutting down one newspaper is easier than shutting down several. 2) What do you think about the silence of Garry Kasparov as these events have been unfolding? I personally find it appalling, both in terms of what it says about the Kremlin’s ability to stifle opposition and in terms of Garry’s potential value as a leader. It seems to me he’s going the way of Yavlinsky. Garry is an exceptional person. Kasparov today is smarter and more farsighted than he was yesterday. You already know that on December 12 – Russia’s Constitution Day – Garry Kimovich’s office was searched and books, documents, newspapers, and posters were seized. Before that, he had spoken at the Second Human Rights Congress and at the Civic Forum. I heard these speeches, and certainly didn’t see evidence of any “silence” on Garry’s part in them. Of course, it’s not difficult for the power to strangle the opposition, ESPECIALLY the kind of opposition we have today in Russia. The main question concerns the ability of this opposition to unite in a meaningful way, not just in words. So far we have not seen such a unification. So what do we have? Well, for example, the power has registered SPS and “Yabloko”, but not the Republican Party and Limonov’s National Bolshevik Party. In doing so, the power has succeeded in sowing discord in the human rights community, by dividing it into those with access to power and those without. Some members of the opposition say they want to take part in elections, while others don’t. Some are for cooperating with the power, while others are categorically against. And the power is so far adroitly playing these contradictions off against each other. Unfortunately, the leaders of the opposition so far either don’t understand the meaning of this game, don’t realize how they’re being toyed with by the power, or they are consciously playing into the hands of the power. I believe that Garry Kasparov is one of those who do understand: you can not cooperate with today’s power in Russia, because it will betray you in the blink of an eye. Who do you think is the most promising leader of opposition in Russia today? The most promising? Hard to say. Of those who are in the public eye, each one has at least one major flaw. I for one am following the political activities of Vladimir Ryzhkov with great interest.