On Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin warned the FSB that as the September parliamentary elections inch closer, "foreign foes" present a "direct threat to [Russia's] sovereignty". Yes, this is code for "color revolution."
Although Putin enjoys overwhelming support from the Russian people (last we checked, his approval rating is still hovering around 80%), it would be naive to overlook economic factors that, along with a bit of help from western "democracy promoters", could potentially fuel civil unrest during the next elections. And Putin sees it coming:
Addressing top FSB officials in Moscow, President Putin said: "Unfortunately, our foes abroad are getting ready" for the parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 September.
He said the techniques were well-known and urged the security service to "suppress any attempts at foreign influence".
And according to Putin, Russian intelligence is already aware of what the US is trying to cook up:
I read the regular documents you (FSB) prepare, read the summaries, and see the concrete indications that, regrettably, our ill-wishers abroad are preparing for these elections. Everyone should therefore be aware that we will defend our interests with determination and in accordance with our laws
A few things to point out:
- As Moon of Alabama notes, any attempts by the US to start trouble in Moscow are unlikely to succeed: "The various U.S. services and the neocons in the State Department would certainly like to invite some revolt in Russia. But the chances for a successful putsch in Moscow are tiny. There is no competent opposition to the current government and a bit of economic trouble is not what incites Russians to take on the state. They would have hanged Yeltsin every other day if it were so." In general, we agree with this assessment.
- Putin's warning has already been used by the western media to illustrate how Russia is using "conspiracies" to suppress the opposition. This is hogwash. Around 20,000 (estimates range from 8,000 to 30,000) Russians took to the streets in Moscow yesterday to honor Boris Nemtsov. There was no violence or police brutality (Reuters of course tells of the harrowing story of seeing "one man being dragged away into a side street in handcuffs").
- Russia is well-aware of the tactics used to create "color revolutions". Back in March, Putin told Russian security officials:
President Vladimir Putin again addressed the dangers of color revolutions at Wednesday’s session of the Interior Ministry’s committee. “The extremists’ actions become more complicated. We are facing attempts to use the so called ‘color technologies’ in organizing illegal street protests to open propaganda of hatred and strife on social networks,” he said.
In November last year, Putin named color revolutions as a main tool used by forces that seek to reshape the world.
“In the modern world extremism is used as a geopolitical tool for redistribution of spheres of interest. We can see the tragic consequences of the wave of the so-called color revolutions, the shock experienced by people in the countries that went through the irresponsible experiments of hidden, or sometimes brute and direct interference with their lives,” the Russian leader said.
Is Russia vulnerable to a color revolution? Yes. Is Putin prepared to stop it? Absolutely.
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