Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kasparov Marching Forward

This morning I woke up to the voice of Gary Kasparov as he was being interviewed by the BBC radio. He was talking about Russian politics, the slow death of democracy in that country and the effort of an opposition front, "The Other Russia", to try and stem the powers of Russian president Vladimir Putin. As reported by Chessbase, Kasparov will today, Moscow time, lead a protest march in the Russian capital.

What is happening in Russia sounds very alarming. If you believe the ex-chess world champion, Putin is forming himself into a 21st century dictatorial tsar whose regime, according to some dissidents, is guilty of the same bad habits as the old Soviets.

In an interview with Britain's The Times newspaper, Kasparov has mixed feelings about his country's political fortunes:

If we can keep The Other Russia united for the next six months there will be more and more losers in the Kremlin battle who are looking for other options. The momentum will be on our side. It gives me some optimism, although not much because it could go either way. There could be repressions and arrests.

Let's hope that Kasparov can keep himself fairly safe. From time to time, it's tempting to think that the same fate suffered by Alexander Litvinenko could also befall the chess maestro - a horrible thought, I know. After all, Putin himself has his own supporters. The Independent reports that on Sunday, a pro-Putin march is being organised by the "Nashi" youth movement that is expected to attract as many as 100,000 people.

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