Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#11 - JRL 8495 - JRL Home

MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - Democratic values, civil liberties, and relations between business community and the general public dominate the agenda of a national civil congress currently underway in Moscow.

The congress-Russia For Democracy, Against Dictatorship-has brought together members of liberal parties, such as Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS).

The participants point out in a joint communique that the Opposition are now going to take a tougher line vis-a-vis the incumbent government and may even call the public for acts of civil disobedience. Some of them acknowledge, however, that Russian society is not ready to take to the streets.

Liberal values enjoyed little support at Russia's latest parliamentary election, and are being pushed to the background by present-day political realities.

"No 'Orange revolution' is likely to break out here, in Russia. First of all because the ambitions of our politicians, myself included, are exorbitant and, unfortunately, they are put ahead of Russia's national interests," pointed out Boris Nemtsov, a former leader of the Union of Right Forces who resigned after the organization suffered a defeat in last year's legislative polls.

Human rights campaigner Sergei Kovalev said that unlike civil organizations, many of Russia's political leaders and parties had relinquished values preached by civil society in a bid to win broader voter support. This is why advocates of liberal values should team up today on the basis of civil organizations rather than political parties, he argues.

Some of the congress participants are wearing orange bands and clothing to demonstrate their solidarity with the Ukrainian Opposition. Our Choice party's stands in the lobby bristle with orange items. Led by Irina Hakamada, this party proclaimed orange as its color at a foundation congress October 30, with the Ukrainian presidential election campaign in full swing.