Boris Akunin: The authorities should be more grown up than the people

27 January 2021

By Boris Akunin, author

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Эхо Москвы]

Sometimes you want to say simple, trivial things.  Commentators will no doubt say how naive I am and how out of touch with Russian life.  Let them do so…

I’ll start with a universally accepted axiom.  The authorities need to behave in a more adult manner than the people whom they govern.  When the authorities behave in an infantile fashion, they lose credibility.

Is it adult to assert that an unidentified individual is of no significance and little interest to anyone, when the video they posted has received 100 million views?

And is it adult to declare: “We won’t say whose palace it is, and what does the FSO [Russia’s Federal Protection Service] have to do with the FSO?”

And what, for goodness’ sake, has this got to do with a palace?

I have a large audience here on Facebook.  They include both supporters and opponents of Navalny, as well as people who are not at all interested in politics (they are probably the majority).

I want to ask all of you, regardless of whether or not you have political views: do you want the streets and squares of your country to turn one day into a battlefield?

Because, if things go on as they are at present, that is certainly what will happen.

There will always be opposition in a problem-riven country.  The opposition will ask the authorities unpleasant questions and voice complaints.  If there are many oppositionists, and if they are not allowed into the parliament, then they will take to the streets.  Of course, the authorities can continue to cheat, but where will that lead?

The use of brute force is always accompanied by cruelty and injustice, which turns more and more people against the authorities.  When a crazy policeman kicks a woman in the stomach, he hits the system he is protecting a thousand times harder – and increases the number of her supporters.  Fear will fade, and be replaced by anger.  Sooner or later, there will be an explosion.  That’s how it always happens.

Stop portraying Navalny as a criminal.  He is not a criminal, he is just a leader of the opposition.  Register his party at last.  Do not prevent his party or other oppositionists from winning as many votes in the elections as they can.  Let them put their questions not in the squares, but in the parliament.  Then, instead of a fight, there will be a discussion.  And it will be possible for everyone somehow or other to get along in one country, without fear of tomorrow.

Translated by Elizabeth Teague

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