An extensive and curious document called "Between revenge and oblivion: a concept of transitional justice for Russia" has appeared on the Web and is gaining popularity. This is a large, detailed report that combines a historical overview of the world experience of lustrations and trials of officials of criminal regimes, a description of the crimes of the modern Russian regime, as well as possible legal grounds and mechanisms for bringing people who worked for the regime to justice. (Which, obviously, is supposed after the victory of the revolution or the invasion of our country by some righteous aliens).
Political scientist Dmitry Nekrasov got acquainted with this document and found it interesting not only for its content, but also for the scale of the gap between the content of the document and political reality:
“The gap between the quality of the report and my expectations from the papers on such a problem turned out to be even greater. From such a topic in modern Russia, you immediately expect an outright demschiz and soar and flutter. And here is a thoughtful and scrupulous description of the options for organizing transitional justice bodies (not from a bully, but based on international experience), principles, corpus delicti, crimes themselves (!), With hundreds of references to specific clauses of Russian legislation and international conventions. Description of problematic forks, long-term goals, etc. etc. In general, at the level of a well-developed government program, on which a whole department worked for months. (In reality, written by a group of enthusiasts).
If the goal of the report was to achieve the postmodern literary effect of breaking the template from the inconsistency of time, topic and content, then this effect has been fully achieved.
If I comment on the report meaningfully, then I have three remarks.
1. It is naive to believe that if a revolution does happen (for which I do not see prerequisites on the horizon of 10-20 years), then it will be guided in its real activities by folios written ahead of time. This is something like expecting food detachments of the 1920 model to be guided by Pestel's Russian Truth. Everything and always will happen for reasons of current political expediency, randomly and chaotically. Documents of this kind can actually be used only by invading aliens, but I estimate the probability of their early landing even lower than even the probability of a revolution.
In general, writing plans to build a "beautiful Russia of the future" in Putin's Russia is a deliberately meaningless exercise from a practical point of view. Any system transition will set deliberately unpredictable and deliberately very different from the current, starting conditions and restrictions for any actions.
2. If suddenly the regime really staggers, the popularity of the idea of lustration among the opposition reduces the likelihood of compromise changes and increases the risk of great bloodshed. And, accordingly, it does not bode well for the country.
Pinochet shot oppositionists in stadiums, and then lost the referendum, but a bloodless change of power was possible only under the condition of full immunity for all crimes of the regime, combined with Pinochet's preservation of the post of defense minister and then senator. And she was worth it.
Franco shot political opponents and sent them to camps in hundreds of thousands (taking into account the period of the war), and when he died, many of the regime leaders responsible for the massive repression continued to live happily and respected. However, the compromise political transformation of Spain cost the adoption of the "Oblivion Pact", which pardons any crimes of the regime and explicitly prohibits their investigation.
In South Africa, before the fall of the apartheid regime, political assassinations, terrorist attacks, and open military clashes were practiced on both sides. Police officers and various officials of the apartheid regime have committed many crimes against humanity, and opponents of the regime have been tortured and killed in hundreds. Almost all property in the country was owned by whites. Nelson Mandela himself spent 27 years in prison.
All this, however, did not prevent the African National Congress, in order to reach a compromise, to agree to the adoption of an amnesty law for all government officials who committed crimes during the apartheid period, as well as to provide guarantees for the inviolability of private property of the white population. It should be understood that without amnesty and guarantees, a relatively bloodless transfer of power would be impossible.
In general, over the past 80 years, not a single successful transformation of the regime has occurred to me except as a result of an agreement with the past elites or on the bayonets of more developed neighbors. All Eastern Europe is right on the bayonets. The scale of the economic, and more importantly, the institutional intervention of the EU in the post-Soviet countries that joined the EU, is greater than the scale of US intervention in the transformation of post-war Germany and Japan. It succeeded there not because of good revolutionaries, but solely because of the institutional transfer.
If there are no superdeveloped aliens ready to invade, then any revolution without agreements and guarantees of immunity to employees of the current regime will almost completely lead the country to blood and degradation.
Revenge is generally a bad motive, but in such matters the risks and benefits are, well, completely incomparable.
3. The idea of lustration as a method of increasing the efficiency of the system and a guarantee against a return to authoritarianism does not take into account two fundamental factors.
A) Most of the problems are not in the personalities of specific bureaucrats, but in the general value and cultural landscape. Russians living in the US outside the diaspora are on average richer than average Americans. Russians living in the United States within the Russian diaspora are noticeably poorer than average Americans, and these are the same Russian people.
A Russian official relocated to Denmark is highly likely to stop taking bribes and breaking rules. A Russian oppositionist moved to the seat of a Russian official will take bribes and rig elections with almost the same likelihood as a current Russian official. A Danish official moved to the Russian chair will take bribes and falsify less likely than a Russian oppositionist, but much more than in his own Denmark.
B) If omniscient aliens would compile a list of Russians who are best suited to perform the functions of officials and at the same time are ready to perform their functions for their salary, and would compare this list with the list of those who are actually officials, these lists would overlap at least half... And that half of the potentially ideal officials that they are now not a little overlap with the list of oppositionists.
There are tens of thousands of people physically lacking in the country for the rapid improvement of the quality of public administration, who meet three criteria simultaneously: 1) professionally competent; 2) with a high level of internal ethics; 3) ready to work for relative pennies.
I wrote about it in detail here.
In 2016-2018, I visited Ukraine a lot and talked there, incl. with young guys whom the Maidan threw to high positions of the executive branch.
To be very brief, Ukrainian comrades who came to power from the Maidan said that at first they appointed other young people from the Maidan to lower positions. But after a few months they were forced to dismiss most of those appointed back and take ... well, of course, the old cadres of Yanukovych's bureaucracy. Because there are no others in the country.
Specific people who demanded lustrations on the Maidan, faced with real state administration, quickly realized that in conditions of total staff shortage, lustrations are counterproductive.
And during the appointment and subsequent dismissal of the revolutionaries, there was chaos in the country, which cost it dearly. It would be naive to believe that people from the squares and "investigations" are able to seize management levers without significant losses for the quality of management.
I assume that about 90% of "fiery revolutionaries" are physically incapable of successfully fulfilling the functions of high-ranking bureaucrats. Too different types, requiring too different personal qualities and competencies. The remaining 10% can learn over time. But only with time.
The real results of lustration are demonstrated by the example of Iraq and the lustration of former members of the Baath Party. If you do not bring occupying officials into the country, and even forbid most of those locals who are more or less capable of doing this, then you are highly likely to have chaos and ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) (in the Russian version something chauvinistic and clerical).
Lustrations can be justified and will not lead to the degradation of the country only and exclusively under the condition of the massive importation of employees of the occupation administration from Western countries to leading positions. The occupation administration is the only realistic scenario for a rapid improvement in the quality of public administration, but I am afraid that due to a number of cultural characteristics, most Russians will not appreciate it.
So here, too, there is nothing to count on except for alien intervention. And if there are no real signs of an imminent alien invasion, then any talk about lustration is not only meaningless in practice, but also directly harmful in the long term..."