Interview of Kirill Lyagushev, the head of NGO “Canadian Center for Development of Democracy in Russia”, regarding the split in Kasparov’s Free Russia Forum caused by the activity of agent provocateurs.
“The split in Free Russia Forum is a signal to the entirety of Russian opposition about the necessity of maintaining political purity in their ranks,” – says Kirill Lyagushev, the head of Canadian Center for Development of Democracy in Russia. Our reporter has talked to him regarding the problems and challenges the present-day opposition movement is facing. The reasons for the simultaneous existence of not one but two lustration lists that contain the names of Putin’s regime representatives, with hopes that in future the actions of each one of those are to be analyzed by an unbiased lustration commission on the matter of corpus delicti, have also been discussed.
“The crisis in Free Russia Forum that resulted in today’s split is primarily due to the obsolete authoritarian administrative system based on old Soviet principles. Such a system has led to the Forum (originally created as an independent framework for Russian opposition) being turned into a tool for solving immediate problems of a number of Forum’s organizers, and loyalty to certain leaders’ agendas becoming the main criterion for admission into the opposition conferences in Vilnius. And this is exactly what President’s Administration has taken advantage of by pushing their agent – Marat Gelman, a gallery owner – into the Forum’s Standing Committee. This unprincipled political technologist who was previously employed in Putin’s and Yanukovich’s election headquarters, on Channel One and in Surkov’s structures, and also happens to be a close friend to Alexander Babakov (Putin’s special representative for interaction with compatriot organizations abroad, suspected of having links to organized crime, engaging in raider seizures and financing terrorism in Ukraine), has virtually dismantled the key projects of the Forum – “Putin’s List” and “Personnel Reserve” – after infiltrating the Forum’s leadership. This was done not without the help of these projects’ coordinator Yuri Terekhov who has been accused of provocative activity by many members of the Forum, including Anton Gromov (co-founder of the Database project – bewareofthem.org) and Alisa Goluyenko (Municipal Deputy in Moscow). Unfortunately, these voices as well as many other criticisms that the Forum’s office in Vilnius was well aware of, have been ignored and, as far as I could see, haven’t been brought to the members of the Standing Committee, all the while many opposition activists were being tagged as “provocateurs banned from the Forum” upon the sole decision of Ivan Tyutrin, the executive secretary of the Forum. By the way, the permissibility of such treatment has recently been spoken of by its Standing Committee members Ivan Tyutrin and Daniil Konstantinov on the Forum’s channel.”
Lustration lists are important as a message to Russian and Western society. Read more.
Kirill Lyagushev on Free Russia Forum split:
“The split in Free Russia Forum” was the header of the recent post by Andrei Sidelnikov (a former member of the Forum’s Standing committee) regarding his exclusion from the Forum’s SC that was done bypassing the rules agreed upon via common vote of the delegates, as well as without waiting for the common vote to be the held at the Forum’s 9th Meeting. I cannot say I am ready to back all of the statements given in the post, but I feel it is necessary I provide my own ones instead.
First of all, regarding Marat Gelman himself who was present on the Forum as the organizer of cultural programs that apparently were aimed at slightly distracting the participants from engaging in political debates, the very people who spent their time and money precisely for the opportunity to discuss pressing political issues. Personally, for me Marat Gelman has always been raising serious suspicions due to the nature of his contacts. For example, the ones with business-partners of Dmitri Sablin who has been added into “Putin’s List” and whose dossier was presented by Andrei Sidelnikov on my behalf during the 7th Forum, the one that has never been published despite it not only being presented at the Forum but also published on Kasparov.ru.
Unfortunately, I was too late to learn about Marat Gelman’s political views, his support of “Donetsk Peoples’ Republic” ideologist and terrorist Zakhar Prilepin, his friendship with Alexander Babakov who they both supported the political criminal Yanukovich with, not to mention his contacts with Vladislav Surkov.
Thirdly, regarding Yuri Terekhov, coordinator of the Forum’s projects “The Putin’s List” and “Free Russia’s Personnel Reserve”, who also happens to be an MGIMO alumnus, a son of Arkhangelsk Autonomy Deputy, a stepson of one of Lukoil’s directors Alexei Terekhov, and one whose publications reminded me of KGB-tied ComSoMol leaders of my youth. My personal opinion on the sheer fact that such a person is working for the Opposition is of course entirely subjective. However, his public profile provided by members of the Forum Anton Gromov (co-founder of the Database project – bewareofthem.org) and Alisa Goluyenko (Municipal Deputy in Moscow) fully confirms my darkest suspicions.
Finally, there is a question to the “Free Russia’s Personnel Reserve” project itself. How come that out of 200 Forum activists who applied to the project only 15 made it in? I’m not talking about how it looks from the outside. I, as the head of the Canadian NGO, have serious questions regarding the use of the money grants provided for this program. I do not know how Lithuanian legislation regulates these issues, but if we had this kind of situation in Canada, I would be already testifying at the Royal Canadian Mounted Gendarmerie regarding “misuse of charity funds”. I sincerely hope that the heads of the Forum will refute all my suspicions by publishing a financial report on the use of the said money grants.
I also hope that all the democratic principles that were trampled on inside the Forum will be restored and projects like “Kremlin Network” will become the basis for the unification of all those activists who understand the challenges and pitfalls of opposition work.”