Gennady Gudkov on Bolotnaya Square

May 8, 2013
Gennady Gudkov

Dear Friends!

I asked my colleagues to give the opportunity to speak, and for the first time in my life — I’ve never read from a paper — I wrote down my speech, because I want to say some things that are extremely important for our movement.

First, I want to say the flower of the nation has gathered here. Those who are on the square, and the millions who support us, are those citizens that give Russia a chance for the future, a chance for a decent life, a chance for transformation, and stability.  The people who have gathered here are concerned for their people and their country. An enormous thanks to you.

First, civil society has been born in Russia, and it has developed in this last year and it is not going anywhere until we have achieved a political result: honest elections, oversight of the government, free media, independent courts, and a normal, civilized, prosperous country. Right?

Now, as to our rallies. Believe me: every rally, every mass action, is a blow against the regime. It only seems unassailable, it only seems monolithic, but every time we come out on the street, it is a sledge-hammer against the monolith, and it leads to cracks and splits, a split of the elite, a split in society, and more and more people  begin to understand our demands and our correctness.  We must continue our work, continue coming out on the street, and change the government in a non-violent manner— and we can do that, we must do that, and we will do that.

As for our street democracy: why are we here on the street? Because we don’t have parliamentary democracy. It has been destroyed. In the Duma, there are no opposition parties — not a single opposition party in the Duma. The parties are all here on the street. Today with us here we have Yabloko, we have PARNAS, we have Civic Initiative here, we have the representatives of Civic Platform and many other political parties that have supported our movement and have supported today’s rally, and that is very important. And since we don’t have opposition parties, since our media is controlled, since we have prosecutors and courts under orders, what is left for us to do? We will go out on the street and we will achieve, by our street methods, these goals. For now, the OMON and the investigators are protecting the government.  But they also realize where they are being pushed: they are being pushed against their own people, they are being forced to fabricate cases, as they have against Navalny and others, and force them to arrest innocent people who are essentially hostages to the situation. We must stop this, we must not allow a new GULAG in the country.

And now, as to our tasks, in brief. What can we do to withstand a regime that has usurped power, which has usurped the media, which has usurped the financial streams, which has usurped everything? Consider the country occupied. We are obliged to wage— with those who are not on the square—a serious ideological information struggle, even war. Each one of us, each one of our supporters, must turn the country into a field of ideological battle — every smoking room, every workplace, every office, every entryway, every apartment. We must reach our people, who for now cannot be conscious of their interests, who can’t understand how much they’ve been robbed, and how poorly they live in the richest country in the world. It is our task to go out and explain. Those who can have conversations with your neighbors — have them. Whoever can distribute materials that criticize the government and show its real essence — do that. Whoever can stick up or distribute leaflets — that’s also very important. We’ll be able to win when people understand we are fighting for Russia, we are fighting for the people, we are fighting for our future.

Every one of us must become an agitator and a propagandist, and an ideological warrior, and then we will achieve results and will definitely win.

I want to appeal to the independent media and to the honest journalists. We must take a more forward, decisive position. Yes, today they are persecuting the leaders of the opposition, they are persecuting our activists, they are arresting them, searching them, and putting together criminal cases.

But we must rip off the masks of the authorities  – with the help of the media and honest journalists — with the real independent media —   to show the true gendarme nature of this regime; that they are not defending the law, that they are defending their portfolios, their salaries, their right to steal from the country. And we must honestly, openly, bravely and decisively speak of this to all citizens. We must attract to our side those media outlets that are capable of taking up such a position. It is very important not to lose the information and ideological war. There will be alternative public television. There will be alternative media. But we must definitely attract our friends the journalists to this cause.

And dear journalists: verify for yourselves the filth that is being poured on us, what is being splashed all over us. We can’t defend ourselves in white gloves, we can’t get rid of it, we must be ideologues, and really put up a fight against all kinds of Kurganyans and Leontievs and others who distort the situation and  dupe and zombify the people.

And finally, it’s very good that the number of cultural workers have increased. It’s very good that, in response to the question, “Where are the masters of culture?”, many masters of culture have already given their honest, civic response. But I’d really like to see, alongside these remarkable people here today, that this list of people who are the conscience of the nation, this list of people be increased.

Dear friends, comrades in the struggle: we must demonstrate unity in our ranks. We may have differences. But our task is to solidify people, to unite them, to create a broad front to struggle with the government, with the regime that is robbing the country and robbing the people. All disagreements, all differences, will be for later; all differences, all sympathies and antipathies we must leave for tomorrow, when we will be victorious. We are gathered here on the eve of Victory Day, the victory of the Soviet people, achieved at an enormous cost. It began in 1941, and for four years people struggled for victory.

I hope we will not have such a difficult struggle, but we will wage it to the end, and we will be victorious, and our Victory Day will come as well. For our victory! Hurrah!