PARIS, February 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Political scientist Oscar Aubert, an expert on West Europe, Russia and CIS, has said that the scenario in Russia is different to the Arab Spring, stating that Europe "should not apply the same standards to Russia as it has done to the Middle East."
Aubert said, in a recent article said: "We Europeans can easily take for granted simple and clear clichés. For example, we took the revolutionary events in Egypt last year at the instigation of our media for the revolt of educated youth and middle class against the corrupt military despotism.
"But today, looking at the results of parliamentary elections, we see that the "revolutionary youth" got only 7 seats out of 508. The winners were two blocks of Islamist parties, which main bodies are the Freedom and Justice Party (based on the organization "Muslim Brothers" banned in many countries) and the Light Party (representing radical Islam of the Salafi persuasion).
"Religious fundamentalists have in total more than 70% of the votes, while European observers today prefer to call "Muslim brothers" moderate Islamists, which is justified only in comparison with Salafis ... secular and liberal parties gained only 15%.
"General democratic elections summed up last year's "revolution on the Tahrir Square" in which France's sympathy of Egypt was completely on the side of the rebels, but President Hosni Mubarak experienced strong pressure exerted in order to make him resign. Did Egypt become closer to the West? Did the security of Israel, the only truly pro-European government in the Middle East, strengthen? Did a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem appear? Did the threat from Islamic terrorists to France and our citizens decrease? A repeated sullen "no" is a consequence of that thoughtless joyful "yes" that we shouted a year ago to greet "the Arab Spring".
"The Europeans can hardly imagine a situation in which the radicals completely dominate the political spectrum while the liberals are marginalized. But this is the democratic choice of the Egyptians and we have to accept it.
"If we can learn from our mistakes we should not show the same light-mindedness when it concerns Russia. Today the majority of French political observers describe the situation in Russia in terms of a confrontation between pro-European democratic-minded young people and conservative authoritarian regime which relies on the older generation that feels nostalgic for Soviet times. And more often such understandable for Europeans political figures as the leader of the party "Yabloko" Grigory Yavlinsky, Yeltsin's former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, the former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov are named among leaders of the protesters.
"Indeed, they and their supporters are present at the protest rallies. But, going back to the parallels with Egypt, this reminds us of El Baradei, the former Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who with a small group of supporters was regularly broadcast a year ago in the European media as the leader of the Egyptian opposition. However according to the December poll his president rating was 4%.
"The overall rating of the three above-mentioned Russian liberals is even lesser. But the real hero of the street opposition is the radical nationalist Alexei Navalny who feels comfortable enough to speak in front of a crowd of skinheads raising their hands in a Nazi salute. The second most popular hero of the protest movement is the radical leftist Sergei Udaltsov who differs from Navalny by his internationalism. These two leaders are united by the slogan of a large-scale redistribution of property - "from oligarchs - to the Russian people" in Navalny's wording and "from oligarchs - to working people" in Udaltsov's interpretation.
"It is not surprising that outnumbered liberals feel uncomfortable at the joint meetings of protest, especially when the nationalists obstruct speakers with Jewish roots.
"In a face-off with ultra-nationalists and radicals Vladimir Putin is guided by the formula of Pyotr Stolypin, a popular historical figure in Russia, Prime Minister (1906 - 1911), a reformer and a fighter against the Revolution, who died tragically at the hands of a militant: "They need a great upheaval, we need a great Russia!". And this slogan (in different variations) allows Putin to consolidate successfully his supporters.
"We in France need stable Russia - an ally and partner of the EU. In the word combination "great Russia" some Europeans hear the imperial notes that, taking into account our historical experience, can cause certain concern. But the phrase "a great upheaval" in the case of Russia is, indeed, Europe's nightmare."
Oscar Aubert is a sociologist, political scientist, an expert for West Europe, Russia and CIS
SOURCE Russia Insights www.russia-insights.com