'West caused Russian aggression' dissident says

  • 2008-09-24
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

LAYING BLAME: Prominent Russian dissident Leonid Volkov, currently living in Germany, said that the West could have prevented Russian aggression by helping the country recover from the fall of the Soviet Union.

VILNIUS - Leonid Volkov, a renowned Russian dissident living in Germany, said in a speech in Kaunas that the West is partly responsible for the current Russian resurgence that led to the Georgia invasion.
Volkov said the West should have helped Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, but failed to do so.
The current aggression, he said, comes from Russia's inferiority complex, brought on by the fall of the Soviet Union. He said the situation in Georgia is a manifestation of this complex.

Volkov, however, was hopeful that by means of patient dialogue with Russia, the West could provide it with a possibility to reexamine its intentions.
Volkov deemed the Kremlin's current ideology "imperio-Nazism," citing Russian leader Vladimir Putin's autocratic tendencies.

The West had had the capacity to head off such a development of events by offering Russia assistance in the 1990s through a program like the Marshall Plan, but it never did, he said.
Volkov delivered his analysis of Russian relations at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas at a conference called "Europe, the New and the Old: Liberty, Solidarity and Social Criticism."


At the same conference, Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of Polish daily Gazeta Wyborzca and co-founder of the Solidarnosc trade union movement in Poland, said Euro-skeptics among the Polish differ little from Putin supporters in Russia.
Michnik said the rhetoric expounded by Polish right-wing ultra-orthodox Catholics is similar to that of superpower-minded, orthodoxy-embracing Russians, who also bring up the lack of spirituality in the West and constantly talk of how neighbors have wronged their country and continue to do so.
Anti-capitalistic attitudes and anti-Americanism link Polish left-wing Euro-skeptics with advocates of Putin, Michnik said.

"Euro-skepticism in my country, I believe, is the distinctive feature of opponents of democracy. Those who go out in the streets shouting 'Yesterday Moscow, today Brussels, [and] 'We need no foreign dictators' are in fact saying, 'We don't want the European Union, we want the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States],' because there simply is no third option," he said.
Similar anti-democratic tendencies can be observed in all post-Communist states, the editor said, naming former and current politicians such as former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, former Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and Czech president Vaclav Klaus.

The round-table discussion was organized by the School of Political Science and Diplomacy of Vytautas Magnus University.