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Duma's Kosachev Rules Out Arab Scenario In Russia But Notes 'Lessons'

Mass Protest Near Kremlin Walls at Dusk with Some Protesters Holding Lit Flares AloftMoscow, 26 February: The chairman of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, is convinced that developments similar to those that have swept through North Africa and the Middle East are impossible in Russia but has called for lessons to be drawn from them.

"In Russia, at least at the current stage in its development, nothing like it should happen by definition. As for speculation about possible reverberations from the Arab unrest, in Russia, it primarily comes from those who themselves would like that to happen," Kosachev wrote in his Internet blog.

"For all its faults, the Russian political system is as different from Eastern dictatorships as night and day. It is far, far better, which, setting aside sloganeering, is obvious to any non-politicized and non-partisan observer," he underlined.

Kosachev outlined another reason why he thinks nothing like the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa should be expected in Russia.

"In our society, for all the obvious socioeconomic problems and the fact that many, many people are still poor, there is no trace of that boundless and hopeless poverty on the verge of extinction that is driving crowds of people, out of control, with cries of despair, and ready for self-destruction for the sake of blind and naive hopes of instant changes for the better, into the Arab street," Kosachev said.

At the same time, he thinks that Russia's authorities and society should learn lessons from what is happening in the Arab world. There are at least two lessons to be learnt, according to Kosachev.

"First, the only way for the political system in Russia to be stable and insured against turmoil is if it is really a multipartite one," the deputy said. At the same time, he underlined that the "stress on the word 'really' means there should be an ample number of parties that not just fight it out for power but are also aware of their responsibility to the country and its citizens, and that compete with not who their leaders are but what their ideas and political platforms are".

Kosachev thinks that such parties should do real work on the ground with people, rather than just strive to promote themselves in the media. They should "not look lively in the run-up to elections but get busy with goals in mind," as he put it.

"We - I mean the various parties - are, thank God, moving towards that, each for its own part, albeit alas very slowly," the parliamentarian noted.

The second lesson that everyone in the country should learn from the Arab unrest, according to the deputy, is the realization that "however sound a government thinks its reforms are, be it economic or social, if they do not bring about real changes for the better for people, sooner or later they will inevitably cause rejection, and then hatred".

"The stress again is on the word 'real'. In any society and at all times, unpopular decisions have to be made, when what is required is consolidated political will. But it is important for it not to be limited to that, and for the art of high finance not to be accompanied by the lack of economic and technological ambition. It is important not to have to wait half one's lifetime. Time is precious," Kosachev said.

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