Modernize Russia

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – The derogatory German campaign against Russia and its President Vladimir Putin has persisted even after the Olympic Games have opened. The campaign is not only aimed at mobilizing German public opinion; it seeks to also further incite the emerging Russian middle strata against their government. These middle strata are gaining in strength and are seen as a potential leverage for Western influence in Moscow since the 2011 and 2012 mass demonstrations against the current President Vladimir Putin. German government advisors are proposing that Berlin establish new channels of influence through contacts to oppositional milieus of these middle strata. The German government is not only exploiting liberal but also national chauvinist circles of the opposition – just as it does in the Ukraine, where it also relies on the fascist milieu’s potential for protest. A Russian opposition leader, who is popular in Berlin, refers to natives of the Caucasus as “cockroaches” and recommends the pistol as the means for dealing with them. He is praised as an “anti-corruption expert” in German media reports on the Sochi Olympic Games.

Emerging Middle Class

Over the past few years, the new Russian middle strata have become increasingly important for German policy towards Russia. According to estimates, the middle strata make up approx. 20 percent of the population, but are not expected to grow in the foreseeable future. A large segment of the demonstrators, protesting in 2011/12 against the Prime Minister, at the time, and current President, Vladimir Putin, came from the predominantly urban, pro-western middle class. “A disproportionate number of the well educated, in good professional positions” were among those, who demonstrated in Moscow in late 2011, according to a Moscow research institute.[1] These new middle strata, which have strengthened their economic standing over the past few years, are now not only demanding personal … but also political liberties,” concludes the German expert on Russia, Alexander Rahr.[2]


Because of socio-political divergences within the new Russian middle strata, blatant contradictions persist. For example, as was said during the summer of 2012, “the unambiguous criticism by both the Bundestag and the German government of the handling of the ‘Pussy Riot’ case” – a classical case of supporting oppositional circles – is, by all means, exemplary for the “new approach” for German policy toward Russia.[4] “Pussy Riot,” at the time, was not only very disliked in the Russian society at large, it was as disliked in the oppositional new middle strata, as well. For example, Alexei Navalny, one of the leaders in the Russian national chauvinist spectrum, disparagingly described the punk combo supported by Berlin as “stupid chickens, who committed minor rowdyism, to get publicity.”[5] Navalny is one of those Russians

Foreign Agents

Following the massively Western-supported wave of protests in the winter 2011/12 and in May 2012, the Russian government had initiated measures, which – according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) – were “directed against Western influence.” Not only the right to demonstrate has been restricted; factual or alleged NGOs, which receive money from abroad for their political activities, must also register as “foreign agents.” Respective legislation also impinges on German party-affiliated foundations, which, since then, regularly complain of harsh repression in Russia. The example of the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Ukraine illustrates the essence of this dispute over “foreign agents”: The foundation – which is also active in Moscow – had systematically supported the creation of an opposition party, whose leader Vitaly Klitschko is heading violent protests today and calling for the creation of armed vigilante militias.[9] One cannot imagine the German government standing passively by, while organizations, which, for example receive money from the Russian government, campaign for the founding of a pro-Russian opposition party in Germany or in any of its allied countries. It is doubtful that it would allow their leaders to call for the creation of armed vigilante militias in the course of escalating protests.

Full article: Modernize Russia (German Foreign Policy)

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