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Bukovsky: The experience of opposing mass movements was acquired by the KGB during perestroika. It was then that the politicians decided to develop and nourish mass movements for their purposes. And the KGB was supposed to control and regulate them, and this task was dutifully carried out. The fact that nobody on this earth can control mass movements is a different question altogether. Priest Gapon, the phenomenon of zubatovschina and its network of double agents – here you have the best examples of the inevitable failures of these attempts. The service of these agents led to the revolution of 1905. And this pattern inevitably reappears. The logic here is simple: the web of agents who attempt to control mass agitation will eventually face an inescapable dilemma. The social atmosphere in due course becomes ever more politicized, radicalized; its protest movements come into a sharper focus. If the KGB structures resist this process, they will be thrown off and lose their power; if they join, they lose their influence. And then at a very specific moment within this process (the process that remains highly dynamic) – they will lose their control over the mass movements.
Nonetheless, they have acquired considerable experience in mass manipulation. One should not think that they spent the 1980s doing nothing. They worked on learning the patterns of manipulation and control of the mass agitation. It is also true that these methods are standard; the KGB did not invent them. Placements of agents, creation of false movements – different “people’s fronts” – all of this is hardly new. That these methods will be employed – of this I have no doubt. One should expect this. There are already some personalities appearing on the scene – I do not want to name them – that make me suspect mischief. I look at them – something is very unclear. From what depths have they surfaced?
Galperovich: But there is Nemtsov, there is Yavlinsky; there are different kinds of people that are hardly new. Do you have a sense that these people have a distinct future within these new processes?
Bukovsky: Some of these people, of course, have a future. Nemtsov, for instance. He possesses a unique combination: on the one hand, he has managerial experience, leadership experience (he was part of the government, was himself a governor, and no one in the opposition can equal this). On the other hand he has credible experience in being part of the opposition, and he has an authority in this regard. He would be needed, I am certain. What about the rest? The most visible figures in the opposition are not accepted as a viable option by the population at large.
For instance, my friend Garry Gasparov – for them he is too intelligent, too removed from the common people, from their viewpoint, at least. Limonov is a highly specific figure. For a certain portion of the youth he is a leader and will remain a leader — this is undeniable. But this is a very small portion of the public. A wider population does not accept him. Yavlinsky is a figure that has been worked on from all sides. He has been twirling in politics since 1990, tried all paths, accepted compromises, came out from many highly complex situations, and all of this is remembered, and this burden of the past is not going to be forgotten. Thus, I do not think that Yavlinsky aims to become a leader.
I actually think that we do not know the real leaders. Usually the leaders appear in the moment of the highest stress, when it is time, speaking symbolically, to go to the barricades. Then people, clever, capable, but focused on their own tasks, will leave their immediate occupations and go to the barricades, because there is nowhere to hide. The protest becomes a necessity from within. This is when the real leaders will appear – in the moment of the confrontation! The real leaders cannot appear in the peaceful time; nor can the serious opposition emerge from within the peaceful atmosphere. Without an open confrontation there is no opposition! At this point the protests are swelled by the different layers of the public – by the ones who are not certain with what position to identify themselves – so they go to different meetings. The rest are busy, working on their immediate tasks. But when there is a real crisis, it cancels personal tasks. At that time it becomes impossible to pursue private occupations.
Galperovich: So, this is not a crisis, is it?
Bukovsky: I think that the first serious crisis will take place in the spring, in March or April. Now there is a period of warm-ups, build-up, of swelling from within. This mood will become more radical towards the spring. Presidential elections are generally viewed as a more serious process than the elections of parliament. What is parliament? What can it do even if it is made of the ideal members? But the presidential election in Russia is a serious step – one invites a person to become the country’s tsar! And this awakens emotions, moods, psychological intensity! One does not have to be a soothsayer in order to foresee that the results of the presidential elections will be falsified – in the same manner as the parliamentary ones, even more so. Once again this blatant fraud will be exposed. It cannot be otherwise; the country is very wide! One should expect the sharpening of confrontations – by leaps and bounds.
Even now the situation has developed by leaps, for on August 31st approximately a thousand people went to Triumphal Square, while there were already forty thousand who went to demonstrate at Bolotnaya. The observers say there were more – sixty thousand, perhaps. This is clearly a leap in numbers, a most serious leap to boot. One can always analyze why this happened, of course, but one cannot negate the reality of this startling jump upwards. One cannot negate the process of unrest and radicalization in the society. And one must expect a similar jump towards the spring. This is not a complex prognosis; it is easily foreseeable. And then the crisis will begin, and there will be barricades in whatever form. And then you will see a great number of people emerging from some middling business, who will drop their accounting books and go to the square, because otherwise there will be no future.
You can hear this conversation in Russian in a special issue of the program “Face to Face” [ "Лицом к лицу"] on January 2nd at 4:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. Moscow time.
To buy Vladimir Bukovsky’s masterpiece book, To Build a Castle-My Life As a Dissenter, click here.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
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