Monday, 27 December 2010

Russian Colonel Accused of Plotting Coup

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Vladimir KvachkovThe bear continues to rattle as, on December 23, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported that a former Russian colonel was “detained on suspicions of complicity in terrorism.” Sources at Moscow’s Lefortovo district court identified the suspect as “Former Colonel of the Russian Military Intelligence Service (GRU), Vladimir Kvachkov” and told Itar-Tass that Col. Kvachkov “is suspected of complicity in terrorism and plans to organize an armed revolt.”

The arrest was carried out on December 23 by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the domestic successor to the KGB. The FSB stated that “Vladimir Kvachkov, together with his colleagues planned to seize weapons in several military units, and then make a trip to Moscow, whose goal was to seize power,” wrote the Russian newspaper Kommersant, December 25.

Kvachkov’s lawyer Oksana Mikhalkina responded to the FSB allegations against Kvachkov, telling reporters: “These were ordinary meeting[s] of war veterans, but not the preparation of some mythical conspiracy.”

This is not Col. Kvachkov’s first run-in with the law in Russia.

His arrest occurred “a day after the [Russian] Supreme Court cleared him of involvement in a high-profile case assassination attempt in 2005,” according to PressTV.

The high-profile assassination case that he was acquitted of was an alleged attempt on the life of Anatoly Chubais, the former CEO of Russia’s United Energy System, the RAO UES. The Moscow Times has described Chubais as the “architect of the liberal reforms in the 1990s” who is “reviled by many for the chaos that accompanied the country's rapid transition to a market economy.”

Riding on the exoneration from the court, Kvachkov has denied these new allegations as being part of “a series of false accusations against him and the organization he heads.”

The organization that he currently heads is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Russia (PFLR), a radical far-left Communist group created in response to “the military-political leadership ... depriving the Russian nation of its right to military security, self-preservation of Russia and other indigenous people of Russia and their independent national development.”

The PFLR was created as the political arm of the People's Militia of Minin and Pozharsky (PMMP), which Kvachkov also leads.

On August 28, 2010, in a Russian interview with the Right View, Kvachkov described his militia as “the only political force that says that Russia is in occupation, and the only way out of it is the realization of the rights of citizens to revolt against social and national oppression.” Kvachkov concluded the interview by saying, “Russia is waiting for important revolutionary change.” When the court announced its decision to keep Kvachkov detained until February 23, he responded by stating: “The Russian revolution is inevitable.” Kvachkov was immediately sent to the notorious FSB/KGB maxim-security Lefortovo Prison.

Although Kvachov has denied any allegations of orchestrating a coup, he has had an interest in government, having previously run for office himself. Kvachkov ran for a seat in the Russian Duma in 2005 and 2006, receiving the campaign support of Moscow’s “Labor Russia” and the Vanguard of Red Youth, which is a radical Marxist-Leninist Communist youth brigade dedicated to the reestablishment of the Soviet Union — a goal that ironically is coming to fruition via the Medvedev-Putin government.

In a 2005 interview, Kvachkov elaborated his views on the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, stating that “the Communist Party maintained its influence, using the folk memory of the context of Soviet power with the power of the Communist Party” and that a “return to the Soviet social and economic relations based on utopian ideas of Communism has not and never will work.” Kvachkov went on to assesrt that “Leaders of the Communist Party understand this” and that “the national idea cannot be dogmatic on ideological grounds.”

In Kvachkov’s opinion “the Communist Party does not want and cannot lift people to a national liberation struggle ... because its leaders are quite satisfied with the role of the speaker, but no current opposition.” Instead of “utopian ideas of Communism” as the basis for a new Soviet Russia, Kvachkov called upon the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) for an “Appeal to the national liberation struggle — the only chance for the Communist Party — to regain confidence and become the leading political force in the country.”

Apparently unsatisfied with the CPRF, Kvachkov announced via online video the creation of the PFLR in November 23, 2010. At the time, Kvachkov declared: “We support the initiative to create an opposition movement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Russia.” Alarmed by the establishment and initial popularity of the PMMP and PFLR, the FSB moved in on Kvachkov before he could make good on his past statements for a new “Russian revolution.”

Although Kvachkov’s brand of radical Communism may have been suppressed by the state, for now, this incident nevertheless serves as an additional example of how nostalgia for the Soviet Union still runs high, and how communism is not as dead an ideology in Russia as perceived in the West.

One should also not make the mistake, however, of perceiving this internal dispute among Russia’s various communists as a sign of the insignificance of communism in Russia.

Putin and Medvedev’s ruling United Russia Party enjoys the popular support from the Communist Party of Ukraine for its decision to establish a Customs Union uniting Russia with the largest of its former Soviet socialist republics.

Communism is far from dead in Russia; this incident is a vindication of its willingness and eagerness to feed the imagination of a hungry Russian people who starve for the glory that was once the Soviet Union. Though Kvachkov may be  suppressed in prison, his vision for a “liberated” Russia continues via the ruling elites.

Photo of Vladimir Kvachkov: AP Images

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