Lev Ponomarev: “Which Russia would you prefer? The Russia of Patrushev, or the Russia of Misik?”

4 May 2021

by Lev Ponomarev, human rights activist and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group 

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


On 29th April, nineteen year old Olga Misik made her final speech in court. On 11th May she and two other young  people, Ivan Vorobevsky and Igor Basharimov, will be sentenced for their completely peaceful protest in support of the defendants in the New Greatness case.

 What did Olga Misik talking about? About fear, about love, about the truth, which is not forbidden, and that the fascist regime in Russia will certainly fall. She recalled Sophie Scholl’s words before her execution: “The sun is still shining!” 

Read it through, don’t be lazy. Some of these words may seem naive to you, but these are the words of quite a young person. This is exactly how they should be. They have sincerity, and, sadly, too much truth. This is the voice of a young Russia, Russia of the 21st century, which is still being pounded with truncheons and where you are forced from the age of seventeen to come to terms with the idea that you will sooner or later be imprisoned, if you stand against the authorities. 

Olga Misik went on a demonstration at the age of seventeen , with a copy of the Constitution in her hands. Photos of her sitting with the Constitution in front of a line of riot police were displayed across the Internet during the protests of summer 2019 in Moscow. And two years have passed since then. 

But take a look at those who are hanging on the other end of the phone wire coming from the judge’s office. On the line you can hear a completely different voice, squeaky and dead. While the young people  gave their summing up statements, Nikolai Patrushev was interviewed by Argumenty i fakty. In the interview he shared a new historical interpretation: it turns out that the characterisation of  Ivan the Terrible as a cruel tyrant is nothing more than a “Russophobic myth”, the result of “denigration” by Western historians.  Through the same lens , Patrushev assesses Russia’s modern relations with the West. 

Misik’s final speech at her trial and Patrushev’s interview were published almost simultaneously.  Compare the two statements. 

The voice of Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council and a former, long-time director of the FSB, as the new Russian Oprichiniki (political police) are called.  A new class of barons, as Patrushev himself has apparently dubbed them, rob the country, and terrorize its inhabitants. In 2017, the FSB celebrated its centenary, and the director of the FSB Bortnikov announced the continuation of the traditions of the VChK-NKVD-KGB. Apparently, Patrushev wanted to add that this was also the 500th anniversary of the creation of the  Oprichiniki. 

However, neither Patrushev nor Putin are likely to live to see this memorable date. And there is no guarantee that Russia will survive that long. Today, the main outlines of its foreign and domestic policy are set by those such as Bortnikov and Patrushev, who draw their inspiration from the darkest pages of the past. As a result, instead of ensuring the security of the country, the special services in their current configuration became a threat to its very existence.

It was Patrushev who formulated the military doctrine according to which Russia is ready for a “preventive nuclear strike in regional or even local conflicts.”  Now there’s an appropriate response to the West’s denigration of Ivan the Terrible!  

 It can’t go on like this. These people must leave before entire peoples and countries fall victim to their madness. Which Russia would you prefer? The Russia of Patrushev, or the Russia of Misik? This choice will have to be made. Not only mentally, but above all at the polling station in September of this year.

Translated by Graham Jones

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