In an essay posted on Grani.ru today, Irina Pavlova points out that “the post-Soviet powers that be have done everything to revile and marginalize the liberal idea in Russia and those few liberals who were and remain the true supporters of this idea,” something that the liberals themselves assisted by their involvement in the nomenklatura privatization of the 1990s.
But with the coming to power of Vladimir Putin in 2000 and his efforts to demonize that period and “strengthen the regime,” the situation became even more dire for liberals as the Russian government moved in a direction which even its apologists in Russia and the West say is “little distinguished from a dictatorship.”
That the Kremlin shouldhave done so is no surprise, Pavlova continues, but “a particular ironyin the situation is that by its very actions directed at thestrengthening of an authoritarian regime, the Russian powers that behave acquired many allies in the West,” including those Russianliberals had thought they could count on.
The occasion for Pavlova’scommentary is Anatol Lieven’s article entitled “Russia’s LimousineLiberals” in the current issue of “The National Interest.” In thatarticle, the British writer sharply criticizes Russian liberals fortheir criticism of the contemporary Russian political system.
On the one hand,Lieven accuses the Russian liberals of failing to acknowledge that thecurrent Russian regime, however much they dislike it, enjoys theoverwhelming support of the Russian population. And on the other, heargues they are simply seeking to gain power for themselves rather thanto promote the more open system that they claim to want.