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Novaya Gazeta, January 22, 2004

Those Who Failed to Pass into the Duma are Fortunate

Elena Bonner about the recent parliamentary and forth coming presidential elections

Elena BonnerI continue to believe that boycotting the presidential election is the only moral response to the anti-democratic structure of governance created in Russia. This is not an evasion of civic duties, but a display of personal maturity as a citizen. Andrei Sakharov wrote on more than one occasion: "In the end, only a moral choice is the most pragmatic choice."

Becoming a dissident was a moral choice. The pragmatic consequence of this, as well as personal choice of every dissident was its political success of the end of the 1980s -beginning of 1990s, the Gorbachev era and Gorbachev himself. And the following failure (I resent saying a "collapse") led to the present situation, as the new-old political and intellectual elite of the post-Soviet recruitment completely turned down the moral component in transforming the country.

It will be dull to innumerate all the things: the voucher (and pre-voucher) privatisation, voting "by heart", voting for the appointed heir, agreement of the Duma on liquidation of a two-chamber parliament and demolition of the Constitution, acceptance of the war in Chechnya and later of the elections in Chechnya, liquidation of an independent mass media and many other things.

All these steps taken almost silently or caused a slight disturbance, and often on the call of the so-called democrats from the government, the Duma, creative unions, science and even human rights organisaitons. And was always accompanied by banalities like "politics is the art of the impossible" and "politics and morality are mutually exclusive".

However, following these principles against the moral choice is always "the goal justifying means" and finally the means to totalitarism, fascism and bolshevism.

The two right-wing parties should have understood this well before the parliamentary elections. And used the boycott tactics then. But they in a miniature repeated the German collision of 1932 - the fight of communists with social democrats which resulted in Hitler's ascendance to power in 1933.

Failing to get into the Duma they failed to understand how lucky they are. Open your eyes and clear your minds: those elected to the Duma are the unlucky ones.

Pity the Communists, Zhirinovsky, Rogozin and Glaziev. They will never represent Russia at the Council of Europe, never serve as deputy prime ministers at plenary sessions. Now they will only have the right to collect their salaries and other benefits, and dutifully keep silent.

History, and the "Veshnyakov-style" elections, have given YABLOKO and the Union of Right-Wing Forces a real opportunity to unite with the nation under the boycott slogan, anyway, to unite with a considerable part of the electorate. It would be a great mistake if they did not avail themselves of this opportunity.


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Novaya Gazeta, January 22, 2004

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