State Duma Deputy Sergei Glazyev was knocked unconscious Wednesday as he headed to the closing day of an opposition conference, the latest in a series of attacks that the opposition blamed on the authorities.
Glazyev, a Rodina member who was to deliver a speech at “The Other Russia” conference, was getting into his car when an assailant struck him with a blunt object and left him unconscious.
“The authorities are switching to repression. One of us was beaten up today to prevent him from coming,” former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told the conference.
“There is a war going on against us,” said Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion turned liberal politician. “This is a war being carried out by a government that doesn’t want to listen to other voices.”
Hundreds of opposition leaders and activists gathered for two days at a Moscow hotel to protest President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian line and make their voice heard before the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, which starts Saturday. Conference leaders appealed to other G8 heads of state to pay attention to “full-scale political repression” of those who opposed Kremlin policies.
“Systematic repression against the Russian opposition has become, in fact, the prelude to the G8 summit in St. Petersburg,” they said in a statement. “It is apparent to us that the campaign of repression is centralized and by all means sanctioned by the political leadership of our country.”
Sorry for quoting so much but the piece will soon slip into the paid archives and the BBC et al. just don’t seem to carry this news.
The conference, which attempted to unite the splintered opposition, put hardliners like National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov and Viktor Anpilov, head of Working Russia and an admirer of Josef Stalin, in the same room with Soviet-era dissidents, human rights activists and liberal politicians like Kasyanov and former presidential candidate Irina Khakamada.
Several Western officials attended, despite warnings from the Kremlin that their presence would be considered an unfriendly act. Edward McMillan-Scott, a European Parliament member from Britain, said Wednesday that Russia “is once again a threat to Europe’s stability and security.” “It is a country led by a regime that is selfish, corrupt and which is unreliable,” he told the conference. “‘The Other Russia’ is a Russia which is democratic, prosperous and free.”
Putin accused the West of interfering in Russia’s internal affairs by sending their officials. (See related story, page 1.) He also expressed ignorance about the purpose of the conference. “I don’t know what this alternative summit is. I’ve never heard that some of our political opponents inside the country want to use it to push their views regarding the domestic situation,” he said.
Kasparov said the authorities were pretending that the opinion of civil society was not important.
Limonov said a political crisis would be the only way to change the government. Kasyanov agreed with Limonov, and the two shook hands. Surprised participants applauded and laughed.
Kasparov and Limonov (to say nothing of Anpilov) are both marginal types but the Russian political mainstream has become so nauseating that these losers are suddenly becoming attractive — especially as they are not driven by pecuniary motives.