The Power of the New KGB

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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.

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  • Ben

    KGB is very Russian establishment. Nobody knows Chinese secret service name-they call it Chinese KGB! From IVAN the Terrible secret service (opricniks) played the state strategical role.Great poet wrote: "and you-the blue uniforms and you- the obedient people…". They say: Russian freedom-that is what we do when nobody sees us.
    KGB is the Russian ruler freedom- what he does when nobody sees him.

  • Kabud

    Bukovsky is spreading manure. Who at front page is the culprit?

    Once upon a time, he's saying, the KGB was a force to contend with.

    Now all they can do is murder people.

    He's implanting a double bind in the minds of the people who would rise up against kremlin.

    Long ago when the KGB was serious murder was also serious, and not whimsical.

    Today the KGB has lost its masterful touch, and murders are easy and commonplace, casual, whimsical.

    In other words, Msc invites the masses to hit the streets, but leave the content, direction, and management of the protests to the kremlin's strategists and planners, to the controlled opposition figures and appointed leaders.

    If you try to organize some serious and meaningful protest, today more than ever your corpse, your dead, gruesome, murdered body will be found in a pool of your own blood.

  • Kabud

    The Battle for Russia

    The year 2012 is going to be an exciting one. There will be a presidential election in the United States. There may be a military clash in the Strait of Hormuz. But the most important changes may occur in Russia, where the Russian people are preparing to challenge the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. During the street protests in Moscow and other cities last month, a new feeling swept the country. This feeling has its roots in the development of an authentic Russian middle class. It is not a wealthy middle class by Western standards, but it nonetheless bears the mark of self-sufficiency and decency. Either this decency will prevail, or it will be checked. Either Putin will be swept from power or the Russian middle class will be smashed.

    On one side of the struggle is the surviving machinery of old Soviet state: the secret police, the Interior Ministry, the large corporations, and Putin’s controlled media. On the other side we see millions of people who are fed up with arbitrary government power, gangster methods, and who want to see the rule of law. Each side has its own rhetoric, its own philosophy.

    Exemplifying the rhetoric of the Russian state, consider a recent opinion piece titled Nuclear War on the horizon. Here is a view sometimes expressed by operatives of the Kremlin. In fact, something akin to this view was put forward by Vladimir Putin when he spoke to the Russian nation following the Beslan massacre of September 2004. At that time he blamed America for conspiring to murder Russian children, claiming that “someone” wanted to break up Russia and finish off what remained of the Soviet state because Moscow still had nuclear weapons.

    In the column, America is depicted as threatening the entire world with nuclear annihilation. The United States is accused of leading a bloody “genocidal campaign against Libya” and of threatening the same against Iran. No credit is given to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for publicly speaking out against a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In fact, the United States is embarking upon a program of spontaneous disarmament. As Congress has been unable to pass the necessary deficit reduction package, the U.S. Defense Department will face what Panetta says are “devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation’s defense.”

  • Kabud

    The real policy of the United States and the real objectives of the U.S. military are never acknowledged by Putin’s spokesmen. In the column we read: “The forces of demonic evil now have come nose to nose with the forces of reason.” This was a reference to the Russian fleet stationed near Syria, and the potential for a confrontation with NATO warships. Here the old rhetoric of the Soviet Union appears once more. The war drums are thundering, and the “imperialist aggressor” is called to account. But we cannot take it seriously. For something else has appeared on the horizon, which Putin says was inspired by the CIA: a popular opposition movement against his KGB regime.

    Exemplifying this opposition we find Danila Galperovich’s interview with Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, translated for by Yelena Glazova. Here we find a frank discussion of Moscow’s police state methods. Here we learn that the KGB has “lost much of their qualitative acumen and sharpness in the last twenty years.” And why wouldn’t they? According to KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, the post-Soviet regime of pretended democracy was not supposed to last twenty years. It was designed to overpower the West in ten years. So the plan didn’t work. So Russia’s hidden totalitarian structures have begun to decay. They have remained under fake bourgeois auspices too long; and besides, there is no Stalin to lead them. In this matter we should remember what Stalin said to his henchmen during his last days: “You are like blind kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”

    What Bukovsky goes on to describe is the fate of these blind kittens, caught up in the crisis of Russia’s false democracy. One might say it is the crisis of a deception gone too long, carried too far by structures that can no longer bear the load. A world war might have once saved the current Russian regime, granting it renewed legitimacy in the midst of crisis. But now it is too late. According to Bukovsky, the incompetence of the regime is such that if Stalin were alive today he would have them all shot. “They cannot even blow up the buildings in their capital city without exposing themselves and leaving traces,” Bukovsky added, referring to the 1999 apartment bombings that were used to justify the KGB’s return to power. “Nothing [in the KGB/FSB] works as it should,” says Bukovsky.

    So how will this Kremlin, with its third generation blind kittens, survive the growing groundswell of popular opposition? Bukovsky says that the KGB understands how to manipulate mass movements with its network of double agents. But in the end, this method will not work. “The social atmosphere in due course becomes ever more politicized, radicalized,” Bukovsky explained. In the end, the KGB cannot join the protests against itself without damaging its own position. And so, Russia faces a serious political crisis in March or April. This crisis will likely grow, and spiral out of control.

    Such is the hopeful, optimistic language of Putin’s opposition – represented by Vladimir Bukovsky. It does not entail fear-mongering or anti-Western propaganda. It simply describes a regime that has lost touch with its people. Such a regime may accuse the United States of fostering a revolution in Russia, or threatening the whole world with nuclear destruction; but the game of deflecting criticism in the wake of fraudulent elections does not appear to be working.

    The year 2012 should prove decisive for Russia. Will the anti-Americanism take Russia by the throat? Or will the KGB regime lose its grip? One year from today we should know the answer.