Topic: Russia's Protests: A Year On
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MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is concerned about a possible repeat of “color revolutions” that caused regime change in several post-Soviet republics in the mid-2000s with ambiguous results, a senior Russian official said on Sunday.
“Events are in motion in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine; we’re dealing with it every day. Are these [events] a danger for us? Yes,” said Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council of Russia.
“We’ll be paying attention to the matter in the immediate future,” Patrushev, a longtime member of President Vladimir Putin’s team, said at a conference of Putin’s aides in Moscow. He did not elaborate on possible threats.
Peaceful protests ushered regime change in Georgia in 2003 and in Ukraine in 2004, the events dubbed “rose revolution” and “orange revolution,” respectively. A more violent “tulip revolution” took place in Kyrgyzstan in 2005.
Russia opposed the “color revolutions,” and Moscow’s relations with new Ukrainian and Georgian leadership was strained at best. Analysts speculated that Putin, already in power at the time, was conscious of a possible “birch revolution” in Russia, though none materialized at the time.
Russia saw its own mass opposition rallies throughout the past year, and a new anti-Putin rally is set to take place in Moscow next weekend. The Kremlin eased electoral legislation in response to the protests, but also tightened political laws and rules for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs.
Patrushev said on Sunday that Russia “showed moderation” when it expelled USAID, an American governmental agency that was a major sponsor of Russian NGOs, including rights groups that criticized the Kremlin. USAID was forced to end its operations in Russia last fall on the insistence of Moscow, which said the agency was trying to influence Russian politics.
USAID’s activity “wasn’t in our interests,” Patrushev said.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.