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Opposition Voices: Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov, leader of the United Civic Forum affiliated with "The Other Russia" (Другая Россия) oppositional movement. Photo: unknown

In Russia, openly dissenting voices on Caucasus policy belong to a heterogeneous crowd.  One of them is former World Chess Champion-turned-political activist Garry Kasparov, born in Baku to a Jewish father and an Armenian mother, whose website has become one of the main internet platforms of the Russian political opposition.

Garry Kasparov directs his criticisms at Russia's entire political system, which, despite seemingly very different leaders (Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev), manifests – as he sees it – a basic continuity.

"All those much awaited signs of liberalization have drowned in the 'Putinism' of reality: the war in Georgia, escalation of tensions in relations with Ukraine, the creation of a special 'E' centre for fighting dissent, the growing number of political prisoners, the final subordination of the Constitutional Court to the executive power, and so on. The wait for the Medvedev Thaw has turned out to be nothing more than 'useful idiotism', which is being actively exploited by the authorities."[30]

Kasparov's opposition to the system is sweeping.

"Under the present circumstances, any form of active interaction with the regime, be it participation in elections or membership in the pseudo-civil society structures created by the authorities – any such interaction represents, at the very minimum, indirect involvement in the crimes that are being committed."[31]

His vision of the South Caucasus policy of post-Putin Russia also challenges current orthodoxy:

"Russia's policy in the Caucasus should not only take into account all geopolitical, moral and other factors. First and foremost, it should be shaped by the understanding that the perpetuation of endless war in this high-risk region would kill any hope for effective reformation of the state. There is no sensible alternative to a multilateral negotiations process involving all parties in the conflict, without setting any preconditions …Even if the Caucasus is destined to witness the emergence of new states on its territory, let this be the result of spilling much ink during the long-winded and boring negotiations rather than spilling blood in yet another impressive military adventure."[32]


[30] Garry Kasparov, "Russia after Putin. Part I" (in Russian),, 19 August 2009.

[31] Garry Kasparov, "Russia after Putin. Part III" (in Russian),, 7 October 2009.

[32] Garry Kasparov, "Russia after Putin. Part III" (in Russian),, 7 October 2009.

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