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Russian Color Revolution

In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian General Staff identified Western democracy and civil society building programs as part of the threat assessment in their practice of military science. The color revolutions, the popular democratic protests that occurred in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan from 2003–2005 and overturned the pro-Russian regimes in those nations, played a significant role in the development of Russia's relationship with the West. They created a narrative of a continuous wave of pro-democracy, pro-reform movements sweeping through the former Soviet Union (FSU) that had the potential to spread across the FSU, including to Russia itself.

In their Journal of the Academy of Military Sciences, an article entitled “Color Revolutions in Russia: Possibility and Reality” looked at the Orange (Ukraine), Rose (Georgia), and Tulip (Kyrgyzstan) revolutions in the context of the current Russian military thought paradigm. The authors A.S. Brychkov and G.A. Nikonorov begin their article with a critique of the Clausewitzian dictum that “war [is] an extension of politics by violent means” and they question “whether we have reached a point of never going to war again or [whether] wars will still be there but will change their nature rather than substance.” Following the General Staff’s discipline of historical analysis, the Cold War is poignantly summed up as: “The adversary that defeated us did so without resorting to combat.”

One of the article’s main purposes is to associate the phenomenon of “grand-scale social transformations” with economic development through a military science prism. This rejects any indigenous desires for Western-style democracy or social assistance by the Russian populace and correlates national and individual economic stress to the threat. The article catalogs an extensive list of US and Western governmental and non-governmental organizations and programs that “create an appearance of grand-scale social transformations that were allegedly in consort with hopes of the peoples.” The authors state that “there will always be a traitor who will open the city gates.”

While instigating Hong Kong rioters to paralyze this "international financial center" by violent activities, it was also busy fanning the flames in Russia in an attempt to start a new "Color Revolution". Demonstrations and protests have been held in Moscow for four weekends in a row starting from July 20, during which the protesters resorted to YouTube and other social media to broadcast their activities. On 11 August 209, Andrei Klimov, chairman of the temporary committee of safeguarding national sovereignty and preventing interference in internal affairs and Deputy Chair of the Federation Council on Foreign Affairs of Russia, said Russia already had pieces of evidence proving that foreign forces utilized video websites and other computer information technologies to manipulate Russians to stage protests on Sakharova Street of Moscow on 10 August 2019.

Utilizing social media to organize anti-government protests in a "decentralized" way, abetting the protesters to challenge the rule of law on the pretext of "democracy, freedom and human rights", and causing conflicts between them and the police - this is exactly a carbon copy of "Color Revolution" that has been staged in East Europe, West Asia and North Africa in the past 20-plus years.

On 18 October 2019, pro-Kremlin lawmakers accused Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Britain’s BBC among other broadcasters of violating Russian law in how they covered last month’s local and regional elections. The lawmakers are members of a parliamentary commission established earlier in the year to explore whether international broadcasters and internet services, including Germany’s Deutsche Welle news service and Google, meddled in Russia's internal affairs by allegedly promoting anti-Kremlin protests and encouraging people to attend them.

Some analysts see the fresh blame-game as a propaganda effort to turn the tables on Western countries, which have accused Russia of sophisticated meddling in their elections with online ‘fake news’ and disinformation campaigns. Others say the accusations of foreign interference are part of the long-running Kremlin perception of so-called ‘color revolutions,’ whether in Georgia or Ukraine, or the Middle East as being the handiwork of the West. Putin has made clear his view that hundreds of thousands of protesters are somehow taking instructions from the West. That view was only deepened by the 2014 ouster in Ukraine of Kremlin ally Viktor Yanukovych.

The Kremlin’s hardline approach to Russian opponents has rekindled a prolonged debate among Western officials and analysts as to whether the Russian leader really is color-blind and does believe anti-Kremlin protests are engineered by the West or whether it is just a convenient trope allowing him to convince Russians they’re under siege by hostile powers and to discredit opponents. Political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya says “the authorities have no doubts” about Western meddling. “Putin believes this,” she said.

Writing in his book “From Cold War to Hot Peace,” former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul, who served as President Barack Obama’s envoy in Moscow, said there were often discussions about Putin’s color-blindness during his tenure. “Those of us in the U.S. government debated internally — sometimes with Obama — about whether Putin truly believed these tall tales of American subversive activities in Russia, or whether he just deployed these arguments to mobilize domestic support,” he wrote. McFaul says initially he leaned to the latter interpretation. “Kremlin spin doctors were a cynical bunch, but they weren’t stupid. Surely they knew precisely what we did and did not do in Russia.” But he changed his position subsequently. “I came to believe that Putin and some of his closest advisers genuinely believed that we were seeking to subvert his regime.”

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Page last modified: 03-11-2019 18:56:17 ZULU