Artemy Troitsky, Konstantin Baranov: Current Power in Russia Lacks Political Competitors

Russian opposition does not constitute a real competition to the ruling party, the Russian civil society activists Artemy Troitsky and Konstantin Baranov said yesterday at the Open Estonia Foundation's discussion "Russian Voices", referring to the opposition's weakness and lack of cooperation.

Although both admitted a change of power is inevitable sooner or later, they painted a rather gloomy picture of the current situation in their homeland. The charismatic activist Artemy Troitsky characterized the current government as "incompetent" and "stupid". The human rights expert Konstantin Baranov added that authorities are coming up with more and more measures to prevent people from exercising their fundamental rights.

"Practically there are attempts to restore the iron curtain and suffocate civil society. This can be seen in a number of bills currently in the legislative procedure," Baranov said.

Konstantin Baranov gave a thorough overview of the judicial system and its labyrinths in Russia. As the judicial system is kept busy with numerous political cases, Baranov raised the question if enough resources are left to handle real crimes.

Artemy Troitsky described the more broad tendencies of Putin's regime. He highlighted a lack of dialogue between authorities and opposition and society in general. "Our government does not make concessions because it would make them look weak," Troitsky said. "The government has hit a dead end and is making the opposition follow suit," he added.

Despite the grim outlook, both speakers concluded a change in the political situation is necessary and possible but it is impossible to predict its course. They pointed out the actions of Pussy Riot and other daring activists as well as the work of civic organizations, such as Transparency International Russia, as forces that can make change happen.

The "Russian Voices" discussion was organized by the Open Estonia Foundation as part of the human rights week in Estonia.

The discussion with Troitsky and Baranov can be viewed on video on OEF's website