Fighting for 'orange revolution' money in full swing

The upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections might be the most turbulent ones of the last decade

The ghost of “orange” revolution keeps strutting about Russia. Unlike its communist predecessor, the shape of the “orange” ghost is beginning to bear a striking resemblance to a safe deposit box. Russian politicians are fighting relentlessly to get possession of the keys to that safety box.

Grown-up males and females from the upper and middle echelons of political power normally sound somewhat indifferent while touching on the possibility of an “orange” revolution. Apparently, they would not like to be accused of “pro-orange” sentiments. Political parties with youth movements incorporated in them seem to be more lucky. Young people feel more loosened up while making comments on a wide range of topics. That is why young people are given cart blanche to talk over the issues related to the “orange” revolution.  In a sense, the youth are a proving ground for conducting tests. It is pretty easy to put the blame on the young and inexperienced should anything goes wrong. But the bigger the game, the higher the stakes.

The upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections might be the most turbulent ones of the last decade. The Russian political parties left overboard during the latest parliamentary election suddenly got fresh hopes fermented with the popular protests and “support from abroad” that is sure to come. The funds will be undoubtedly wired to feed new “color” revolutions similar to those that were already staged in some parts of the former Soviet Union. But the money is not for everybody. Only the one will be handpicked and given the lion's share of it. Others will have to pick up the crumbs off the table. And they already started fighting tooth and nail for the Western funds.

Both the liberals of the Right and nationalists of a patriotic variety are fighting hard to get a hold on the funds. All of them seem to be trying to outperform each other by pledging love and affection to the Ukrainian topic that enjoyed popularity overnight. The main contenders for the prize include the youth movement Oborona, the youth union Za Rodinu, and a number of small organizations unlinked to the party structures.

Contender No.1

The young activists of Yabloko simply followed suit of their Ukrainian colleagues and set up Oborona, a clone of the Ukranian Pora. Unlike those totally ridiculous rip-offs of the “orange” youth movement e.g. the Russian Pora, Oborona does not copy the original in a conspicuous way. The operations of the organization are reportedly well-run. Speaking to Russian Newsweek, one of the leaders of the Ukrainian Pora Alexei Yusov complemented Oborona on its performance. He said that at there were at least four organizations going under the name “Pora” in Russia these days. From his point of view, all of them are quite idle. He singled out Oborona as the most viable one. “But its members are very few in number,” said he. He also mentioned a somewhat hodgepodge setup of the organization as one of its shortcomings. Though the Yabloko members are the backbone of Oborona, it has representatives of other political movements. Yabloko has failed to establish a good dialogue with some of those movements so far. Anyway, some people still like Oborona's leader Ilya Yashin. They keep sending him invitations to attend various seminars on methods and management applicable to the “orange revolution.” 

Contender No.2

Oborona is getting a lot of competition from the Rodina youth movement headed by the young writer Sergei Shargunov. The organization has been under the auspices of the political technologist Oleg Bondarenko. The first one is known for his haughty and affected demeanor. The other one likes to put on a show of ostentatious friendliness and pose for effect. The first one is known as the author of “narcotic” novels, the other one is associated with financial intrigues in the party. Both of them are dedicated career-makers capable of keeping their emotions in check. The boys are conscientiously clearing away their living space.

Support of the elder comrades is, without doubt, extremely important. The elder comrades want to turn into the only opposition in Russia. It means the money flowing from the West and power (a wee bit of it at least) in Russia. That is why Rodina is looking to make contact with the Western political organizations and get support from the Ukrainian political parties.

Mr. Shargunov has been talking profusely about his admiration for the “orange” revolution. He has a dream to pull off something similar to it in Russia.

Over the last month alone Mr. Shargunov and Mr. Bondarenko have made three attempts to extend “their greatest respect” to the Ukranian “Orangeists.” First they tried to desperately convince the Ukrainian guests at a political forum in Phoros that Rodina was going to repeat the success of Maidan. Then they rushed up to Kiev to meet with young socialists and activists of Pora. They could not gain admittance to the meeting (for political reasons). However, they managed to sneak into a summer camp in the Carpathians. Mr. Yushchenko himself was expected to show up there.

In other words, despite being No 2 on our list they are not the runner-ups to those who line up for the funds.

Contender No.3

The representatives of the Left-wing, communist movement headed by Ilya Ponomarev sit one step away from the above characters on our list of contenders. Unlike the above characters, Mr. Ponomarev has no full-blown party structure to rest upon. However, it would not be a problem for him to set one up provided that the money is at hand. He has been using the brand of now defunct Left Youth Front. The above organization is still oriented mostly on Mr. Ponomarev despite the fact the he formed a new structure called Left Front. Though the leftist youth do not declare openly their “orange” sentiments, they could become a driving force of the Russian revolution. Availability of regular average youngsters who are ready and willing to stand out in the crowd and go to extremes in their fight could be a decisive factor for picking the recipient.

At least Mr. Ponomarev is using some other ways aside from extremism for conveying the concept to the public and potential sponsors. He also sets up summer camps focused on sports and military training along with street fight tactics.

Contenders No.4

Aside from the big fish, there are a few smaller organizations which also want to have a bite on the pie. The so-called Russian Pora became the first swallow who swiftly made a summer. A phantom organization put together with the help of Andrei Sidelnikov, former party official of Liberalnaya Rossia. It did not come up with anything noticeable apart from copying the style and slogans of Pora up to the look of its web site. The plans to get financial support from Boris Berezovsky eventually fell though. As a result, the Russian clone is on standby at the moment. But the brand remains and somebody might try to get it going someday. Nationalists are also trying to get the most of Pora, they set up a union of the Russian nationalists called Pora. Perhaps more clones are waiting in the wings.

None of the above contenders looks set to win the contest. They continue to hold a debate about the possibility of “orange” revolution and any other colors it might take. They are discussing their colleagues/rivals while trying to get rid of competitors at the same time. But nobody is talking about an organization that can unite the young people while being centered on a single candidate. Too many stumbling blocks are hiding underneath the surface, and brand-new youth leaders are exceedingly snobbish. They have a huge desire to make money on revolution and turn a social protest into a commercial enterprise. You will not get fat with a luggage like that.

Andrey Petyunin

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Author`s name Olga Savka