The West’s plot to undermine confidence in Russia’s system of government

As tension grows in the West’s relations with Russia, and the anti-Russia campaign heats up, it is becoming apparent that one of the main lines of attack will involve delegitimizing Russia’s forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

The most important factor in the strength of the state’s authority is its legitimacy: that is, the extent to which citizens perceive its origins, existence, and actions as lawful. When the state authorities are perceived as lacking a mandate, real problems arise – up to and including revolts, unrest, and revolutions.

As tension grows in the West’s relations with Russia, and the anti-Russia campaign heats up, it is becoming apparent that one of the main lines of attack will involve delegitimizing Russia’s forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Alternatively, the West could use delegitimization as a political pressure tool: if you don’t behave yourselves, we won’t recognize your elections or the state bodies they form as lawful (as in the case of Belarus, for example).

The algorithm for such political operations has been perfected over several decades and applied in many countries. There’s nothing convoluted here – it’s all quite stereotypical, and we are already feeling the impact. Allow me to name just a few of the standard maneuvers.

First: A country is declared to be essentially Not Free. Freedom House (an authoritative American organization with a strong Polish component, almost always involved in color revolution scenarios) has already ranked Russia alongside North Korea and Myanmar. By definition, a country which is Not Free cannot have normal elections capable of producing a lawful government.

Second: The US State Department and a range of international and non-governmental organizations declare that it’s their right and duty to assist in establishing democracy in a Not Free country, by means of supporting various pro-Western public and political groups. This is usually done indirectly (since direct foreign funding in election campaigns is banned everywhere), by training mambers of these groups in campaign techniques and street protest methods, election-monitoring, and cooperation with foreign media. If this kind of assistance reaches its targets, it creates ready tools for influencing the election process and delegitimizing elections. If attempts are made to block it, the authorities are accused of stifling freedom in the election campaign process.

Third: A marginal political force is publicized and promoted, portrayed worldwide as expressing the true will and interests of the majority. For example, Garry Kasparov is getting more attention than Vladimir Putin in the Western media these days. Then this force starts taking action that draws as much attention as possible, hovering at or beyond the limits of the law. If this force is persecuted and prevented from taking part in elections, the elections are automatically declared illegitimate, since the “most significant” organization couldn’t participate. If it is permitted to take part in elections, and gets a predictably negligible share of the vote, the election outcome is portrayed as entirely fraudulent – and/or as a result of this force getting less media coverage (which is actually inevitable, given the group’s marginal nature). Leading parties and political dwarfs don’t get equal amounts of television coverage in any country.

Fourth: A wave of street demonstrations is organized, irrespective of their orientation. Preferably, these take place in the center of capital cities and without legal permits; or the format, timing, and location of legally-permitted events are deliberately infringed. When the law enforcement agencies take action to stop such events, they provide good illustrations for the themes of popular protest against the detested regime and the opposition’s lack of freedom of expression.

Fifth: Election results are declared in advance to be fraudulent (that is, of course, unless some political force that’s friendly toward our Western friends takes the lead in the campaign – but this is neither happening nor expected to happen in Russia). This casts doubt on the electoral system’s ability to ensure unbiased and accurate vote-counting.

No attention is paid to whether the actual voting results are consistent with opinion polls and exit polls – although everyone knows that a vote-counting system’s transparency is measured by its ability to reveal the real preferences of voters. A comparative analysis of opinion polls and election results shows that there is no significant distortion of election results in Russia.

Sixth: A system of international election-monitoring is implemented, drawing predictable conclusions. No one could doubt that the elections in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan would certainly be recognized as free, fair, and democratic. No one can doubt that the upcoming elections in Russia (barring any supernatural developments) will be described by OSCE and Council of Europe observers as unfree, unfair, and undemocratic.

Seventh: When the election stakes are really high, the arsenals may include strong measures such as assassinating or poisoning opposition leaders or journalists, and immediately blaming this on the incumbent authorities. Remember how Ivan Rybkin was readied for slaughter?

These revelations about the black magic techniques of delegitimization could be continued, if space permitted. What are the important points to grasp? For all the well-known flaws in Russia’s democracy, these efforts to delegitimize our present and future authorities bear no direct relation to democracy or lawfulness. Fine evidence of that can be found in the West’s reaction to current events in Ukraine. With the direct or tacit consent of Western governments, Viktor Yushchenko is carrying out a state coup – breaking laws and infringing the Constitution almost every week. But the West isn’t questioning Yushchenko’s mandate, and I assure you it won’t do so. The end justifies the means. And the end is important: creating a homogenous pro-Western government capable of tearing Ukraine away from Russia forever and dragging it into NATO at an accelerated rate, regardless of objections from the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian citizens. As long as Yushchenko maintains this policy course, the West will consider him entirely legitimate. The West doesn’t use delegitimization techniques against its loyalists.

And what we need to understand is that we’re dealing with techniques aimed at weakening our country and creating instruments for influencing Russia. No more, no less.