The Russian Dissents website has published a translation (from Russian into English) of Boris Kagarlitsky's last public article, published before his arrest. This article is interesting for understanding his real political position, which is not that of a 'pacifist', nor of a revolutionary, nor of a consistent democrat. The nature of his positions in no way determines the need to demand his release. But it must be known if this campaign is not to be confused with anything else.
Suddenly, a J.L. Mélenchon calls for the defence of the great "Russian pacifist", neo-Stalinists from all over Europe get into the act, and at a time when the most important issue for internationalists is the demand to provide all the necessary arms, without political, military or financial conditions, for the Ukrainian counter-offensive, we see pressure being exerted in the European radical left to make this the primary issue. In reality, Kagarlitsky's release depends on the release of all political prisoners and it is the defeat of the Putin regime, with or without Putin, through the Ukrainian victory, which is the shortest and surest route to this.
Mistaking bladders for lanterns is never a good thing, and the subject of 'Kagarlitsky' is the culmination of three decades - not going back to before 1991! - of blindness, ignorance or disinterest on the part of the Western radical left in what was really happening to the east of the old Iron Curtain, which had not fallen as much as had been thought. That's why the subject is important and, at times, painful.
In his article, Kagarlitsky comes to the defence of the Angry Patriots Club, the movement of Strelkov/Girkin, a criminal torturer in Transnistria, Bosnia, Crimea and throughout the Donbass, who was his close political ally in 2014 in their joint fight for a supposedly "revolutionary" Russian offensive war in the Donbass and beyond. The restoration of the Tsarist empire and its St George's ribbon, the emblem of Denikin's White Armies, the restoration of the USSR, or the fight against the "empire" of "Western" "finance", all were then conflated in social-imperialist rhetoric geared towards preparing for genocide against the "Ukrainian Nazis". Kagarlitsky adopts a high-minded posture towards the "naïve" Angry Patriots, but make no mistake: he fundamentally stands in solidarity with them, maintaining the bond that has united them since 2014 (at least), and hails them as principled and honest, even if those principles are, in his view, outdated.
What is his political criticism of them? What does he mean when he denounces their political naivety and economic illiteracy? They would have been wrong to take seriously the official reasons for the "special military operation" of February 2022. These were to "denazify" and "demilitarise" Ukraine, to destroy "Nazism" and the threat from the West and NATO. This 'programme' is not denounced by Kagarlitsky for its content - it is his 2014 programme that he does not question anywhere - but it is denounced as being insincere on Putin's part. Putin would have no principles (that's true...), and in February 2022 he would have fallen into a "trap": whose trap? The thesis of the "anti-imperialists" supporting Russian imperialism is that the trap was set by NATO. And it is all the more theirs since, unexpectedly for both Putin and NATO, the Ukrainian people and army defeated the blitzkrieg of February-March 2022.
So, between the lines but clearly, Kagarlitsky maintains his 2014 orientation leading to genocide in the name of an adulterated "anti-fascism", hand in hand with the fascists, and deplores the fact that in February 2022 Putin was tricked, while believing that it was in his nature to be tricked in this way: because to carry out the "revolutionary" project of 2014, the genocidal ethno-imperialist project taken up again in February 2022, another state and another economy would have been needed. In short, the dynamic of the "liberation of the Donbass" and the genocidal extermination of the "Ukrainian Nazis" had to give birth, in order to be completed, to a Russia that was once again "red" but tinged with brown and white, and this failed, which he deplores. His defeat - the defeat of this programme of reaction across the board, formulated in 2014 and forming the basis of the global stalinist-fascist alliance - has led him to his current opposition.
Hence this characterisation of the present moment: since the Prigozhin putsch Putin is finished - here too Kagarlitsky is right, even if saying so may have earned him his freedom - and the only way out for these trapped "Russian elites" who believe in neither socialism nor tsarism, but only in their wallets, is to withdraw from Ukraine.
Kagarlitsky explains that Girkin was arrested in preparation for a total withdrawal from Ukraine, provoking a change of leadership in Moscow. A pacifist stance? not really...
And since then, his own arrest could, according to such an analysis, be part of the preparations for the capitulation, certainly resulting from the "trap" of February 2022!
That some Ukrainian comrades, but also some Russians, do not wish, in these conditions, to distinguish Kagarlitsky from Girkin and see him as a "political prisoner" is understandable.
But three other things are important.
One is that Kagarlitsky is linked to Girkin but is not Girkin. Girkin is the former head of the colonial armed forces and the mafia and fascist militias that serve them, while Kagarlitsky is a consistent social-imperialist and a confirmed member of the "radical left".
The other is that this arrest has international significance. Putin may well pretend at a recent press conference that he doesn't know Kagarlitsky, but he or his real sponsors are well aware that he is an icon of the Western "radical left" and this is a factor in their decision to crack down on him now.
The third point is that this arrest is a terrible message to the entire Russian intelligentsia and in particular to all those who have remained in Russia, including true pacifists, true democrats, true socialists and true defeatists: If Kagarlitsky, who, even when arrested, retains powerful official support (remember the stances taken in his favour by Simonyan and Markov), if he can fall, then everyone will now be in a situation where, at 5 o'clock in the morning, if someone rings their doorbell, it will be like 1937.
That's why, without making a fuss, but on the contrary saying everything, his release must be demanded.