Increasingly, battle lines are being drawn in Russia. Yesterday, an online petition appeared
calling for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's removal from power and it has been signed by virtually all active members of the Russian political opposition and a growing rank of ordinary citizens.
The sites where the petition has been posted (here
) have been frequently inaccessible today, so The Power Vertical decided to translate the entire manifesto in full for the record. It represents a clear and impassioned presentation of the opposition's indictment against Putin. And, by focussing dissent so personally and directly on Putin himself, the authors of the declaration could be significantly raising the odds of a violent crackdown.
Here is the anti-Putin manifesto in its entirety:
Citizens of Russia! The recognition that the ruling elite has led our country into a historical dead end has prompted us to issue this statement.
The transfer of virtually unlimited power by the [Yeltsin-era] Family, which was trying to guarantee its own security, to a man of dubious reputation who was distinguished neither by talent nor by the requisite life or professional experience has resulted predictably in the serious degradation of all institutions of state governance.
Even a significant portion of the ruling “elite” feels that a change is necessary, as attested by the loud reaction to [President Dmitry Medvedev’s] opus “Forward, Russia!” But Medvedev’s modernization project bears a distinctly artificial character and is aimed at a single goal – to redo the decorations while maintaining the nature of an authoritatian-kleptocratic regime.
We state that the sociopolitical construction that is killing Russia and has now bound the citizens of our country has one architect, one custodian, and one guardian. His name is Vladimir Putin.
We declare that no essential reforms can be carried out in Russia today as long as Putin controls real power in the country.
We declare that the dismantling of the Putin regime and the return of Russia to the path of democratic development can only begin when Putin has been deprived of all levers of managing the state and society.
We declare that during the years of his rule, Putin has become the symbol of corrupt and unpredictable country that is pitiless in its treatment of its own citizenry. It is a country in which citizens have no rights and are for the most part in poverty. It is a country without ideals and without a future.
If, as the Kremlin propagandists love to repeat, Russia was on its knees during the Yeltsin period, then Putin and his minions have pushed its face into the filth.
In the filth of the authorities’ contempt we find not only individual rights and freedoms, but human life itself as well.
In the filth of a false and feeble imitation of political and social institutions – from the bureaucratic phantom of United Russia to the Nazi-like Putin Youth.
In the filth of soul- and mind-warping televised obscurantism that is turning one of the most educated nations in the world into a soulless, amoral mob.
In the filth of total thievery and corruption emanating from the very pinnacle of Russian power. If not for the years in which Putin roamed the galleries of the Kremlin, the billionaires of his inner circle –Abramovich, Timchenko, the Kovalchuks, Rotenberg – would not exist. Nor would the parasitical state corporations of his friends – these black holes of the Russian economy.
Having begun his rise to power with the epical statement about “wiping them out in their outhouses,” Putin over the course of nearly 11 years has used this universal “tool” of ruling the country, and it has proven particularly effective in regard to his political opponents and business competitors.
Any political, social, or economic dissent is immediately suppressed: in the best cases, by administrative restrictions, but often by the bully clubs of the riot police, by criminal prosecution, by physical violence, and even by murder. Putin has proven that he is willing to destroy his personal opponents by any means available.
During the time that Putin has been at the pinnacle of state power, everything that could be ruined has been ruined. Pension and administrative reforms have been undone. There has been no reform of the armed forces, the secret services, or the law enforcement and judicial systems. The health-care system remains in its previous, pathetic condition.
The decline of education and science, which has been farmed out to the Ozero cooperative group, has reached the point where the “titans” of Russian scientific thought must be considered people like Petrik and Gryzlov.
Ten whole years have been lost – years when a boom in hydrocarbon and metals prices could have been used to modernize the country and carry out a structural reorganization of the economy. That is why the blow of the global economic crisis hit Russia so mercilessly, and it is far from over for us.
Having been named prime minister by Yeltsin, Putin not only was unable to correct the fatal mistakes made by his predecessors and put out the flames in the Caucasus, but his policies managed to raise that conflict to a new level that is capable of destroying the integrity of the country.
The “Kursk,” the Nord-ost theater, Beslan, the tens of thousands who died in the internecine second Cacasus war, the thousands who have lost their lives in infrastructure disasters, who burned in homes for the elderly and the handicapped that were unfit for human habitation, the dozens of murdered journalists and human rights activists and political opponents of the regime, and the ordinary victims of sadistic police lawlessness – these are the gravestones of the years of Putin’s rule.
These are the unexposed secrets of the Putin regime: the  entry of [Shamil] Basayev into Daghestan; the explosions of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk; the so-called training exercise in Ryazan.
People have long since stopped being surprised by Putin’s incapacity for strategic thinking. He is unable to see what the world will be like in 10-15 years and what place Russia can and must occupy in it. He is not capable of evaluating the real threats and risks facing the country, and that means he is in no position to correctly plan possible moves or identify potential allies and rivals.
A clear illustration of these short-sighted polices are the recent surrender agreements with China, in which Putin lightly erased the Russian Far East and Siberia off the map.
Further evidence of Putin’s lack of understanding of the future is his maniacal passion to build gas and oil pipelines in all thinkable and unthinkable directions; his initiation of expensive, ambitious projects (like the Sochi Olympics and the bridge to Russian Island), which are absolutely wrong for a country in which a large portion of the population lives below the poverty line.
Having temporarily moved form the presidential chair to the prime minister’s offices and having left in the Kremlin an obedient placeholder who is “of the same blood” – a modern Simeon Bekbulatovich – Putin has created an openly unconstitutional construction for governing the country for life.
It is obvious that Putin will never voluntarily relinquish power in Russia. His fierce intention to rule for life is no longer based on a thirst for power itself so much as on the fear of being held responsible for what he has done. For the Russian people, this is humiliating. But for the country it is fatally dangerous to have a ruler like Putin. This is a cross that Russia can bear no longer.
As the Putin grouping feels it the ground falling from under its feet, it could at any moment move from targeted repression to mass repression. We are warning law enforcement and security agency officers not to stand against their nation, not to carry out criminal orders from corrupt officials when they send you out to kill us for Putin, Sechin, and Deripaska.
Now the national demand at demonstrations from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad must be the call “Putin Must Go!” Ridding ourselves of Putinism is the first, obligatory step on the path to a new, free Russia.
-- Robert Coalson