Saturday, October 7, 2017

Navalny’s Civil Disobedience Intended to Annul ‘Pact of Obedience’ and Restore Sense of Citizenship, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 7 – Aleksey Navalny’s campaign is usually discussed in terms of the ideas and programs he is pushing, Aleksandr Skobov notes, but in fact, his agenda now that he has turned to civil disobedience is far broader and is about the restoration not just of the property the Putin regime has stolen but also the voice it has taken away from Russians as citizens.

            On the Grani portal today, the Moscow commentator notes that the Navalny staff is telling Russians that the Putin regime wants people to believe that “the very fact of taking part in elections ‘without agreement and permission in advance’ is a strange, exotic, and irrational act” (

                Indeed, Skobov says, the Putin regime wants Russians to believe that they can do nothing in public life without its approval in advance and that there is nothing that they can do about that reality. This, “the silent ‘social obedience pact’ is the very basis of the Putin system” which seeks to have everyone avoid doing anything that rocks the boat.”

                Specifically, this pact requires, the commentator continues, that no one “divide society,” “violate the law when you require that the authorities obey it,” “provoke the authorities to repression,” “resist the rapist” but instead “relax and enjoy it.”   

            Navalny’s team wants to “tear up this pact” by engaging in civil disobedience in order to “’create such an atmosphere in society so that it will not want or be able to accept ‘elections’ without real competition and independent candidates’ or to accept denigrating bans on going into the street to express one’s position.”

            “Without the formation of such an atmosphere, without mass preparation not to subordinate oneself to fraudulent rules, imposed by bandits who have usurped power,” all efforts at advancing a program and candidates in elections the bandits control are worthless, Skobov argues.

            What Navalny and his team are seeking then is “real participation in elections.” For that he needs to attract overwhelming popular support from those who have changed the way they think because “nothing will change in [Russia] without a massive willingness of people to go out” even at the risk of being attacked or arrested.
            In seeking to achieve that, Skobov says, “Navalny is appealing not to ideologies and programs. He is appealing to the senses, a sense of justice, of solidarity, of pride in being a human being who cannot be subordinate to someone who is stronger than he is.” In so doing, he is re-awakening “the republican spirit.”

            Obviously, he is doing this to advance his own candidacy. “But the reverse is also true. Support for Navalny as a candidate works to arouse these feelings.” His tea is “working for political polarization which our ‘moderates and accurate’ people so fear.  They do not want to make a clear choice.”  And he is demanding that they do so.

            Ever more Russians are joining him in making this choice, but Navalny’s movement has not yet achieved the strength needed to “destroy the accursed ‘obedience pact.’” But with each demonstration and act of civil disobedience, he is ever closer to achieving that. If Russians join him, a great deal can be achieved; if they don’t, yet another opportunity will be squandered.

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