On November 5th in Moscow and a number of Russian regional centers, a series of mass arrests hit participants of the unsanctioned protests organized by the Artpodgotovka (“artillery barrage”) movement. The latter’s leader, Vyacheslav Maltsev, has proclaimed nothing more nor less than a “popular revolution” in Russia, the goal being “saving Russia”, i.e., overthrowing President Putin. Earlier this year, Maltsev left Russia and now manages his movement’s protests from abroad – or, more likely, they’re only organized under his name.
Maltsev is a representative of the PARNAS party of ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, which makes up the backbone of the pro-American, anti-establishment opposition. Artpodgotovka is essentially PARNAS’ street army.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has announced that Artpodgotovka cells have been suppressed in six cities: Moscow, Kazan, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Samara, and Saratov. According to OVD-Info, by 21:00 on November 5th, 448 people had been arrested across Russia, 339 of whom were arrested in Moscow (49 of them minors), and 21 members were arrested in Saint Petersburg. Many of those arrested were in possession of “cold” or trauma-inflicting weapons, masks, and materials for preparing Molotov cocktails.
Artpodgotovka’s script and tactics are identical to those of Ukrainian radicals. The “peaceful” seizure of power script has more than once been successfully unleashed by pro-American forces in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine. In 2008, the author of these lines wrote an article for the collective monograph, Orange Networks: From Belgrade to Bishkek (Saint Petersburg, 2008, edited by Natalia Narochnitskaya), which highlighted the work of Ukrainian “nationalists” in the first “Orange Revolution” and their ties to their Georgian and Serbian cohots. Needless to say, these tactics have also been met with failure in other places – street revolutions have failed to materialize in Belarus, Armenia, and Moldova. In these cases, now another tool is being used: the establishment of contacts within the current government. This has been most successful of all in Moldova, where an anti-democratic, oligarchical, pro-American regime has been established, and the only thing still preventing Moldova’s annexation by Romania and occupation by NATO is nationwide support for embroiled President Igor Dodon. Overall, however, color revolutions have more often than not turned out successful.
How likely is it that such successful experiments will be repeated in Russia? The Bolotnaya Square events in 2011 (when no less than 100,000 people came out to protest under liberal slogans and numerous protest actions took place simultaneously in Russia’s “northern capital,” Saint Petersburg) demonstrated that the non-systemic liberal, pro-Western opposition wields great potential in the capitals and big cities. Moreover, their manpower is not only expressed in terms of mass turnout. PARNAS and other non-establishment organizations in the likes of Open Russia under Mikhail Khodorkovsky (the oligarch serving a criminal sentence in prison on charges of tax evasion who was subsequently pardoned by President Putin and fled to the West, where he launched active operations for staging a color revolution in Russia), as is well known, also have their own combat units.
Russian media has discussed this fact abundantly. I can refer the reader to my own personal experience. My good friend whose political views I do not share has participated in non-system opposition protests in Moscow for a number of years. By his own confession, he was offered to join one of the “peaceful” opposition’s combat units. According to him, street fighters are constantly being trained by top-notch professionals.
But why do so many people take to the streets and join these protests? Who is behind these protests and what goals are they pursuing? We will seek to answer these pressing questions in two following articles. Stay tuned in to Fort Russ.
Originally published on fort-russ.com