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Kasparov: In the Holy Fire of Revolution

Garry Kasparov – from the world’s greatest chess player to a minor Russian politician with lousy choice in friends.

And now, film star.

In the Holy Fire of Revolution, directed by Masha Novikova, follows Kasparov’s doomed attempt to stand for the Presidency of Russia last year.

I haven’t seen the film yet – it’s London premiere is next week – but the blurb promises that this film is “a must-see for anyone who wants to know what Russia looks like today.” And then goes on to talk about how Kasparov’s latest game is unfair – the Kremlin are sabotaging him at every turn.

Undoubtedly, the game of politics in Russia is unfair. But that doesn’t really address the point of whether Kasparov is actually any good at the game of politicians. My view is that he’s pretty rubbish at it, which makes it all the stranger that the Kremlin goes to such efforts to sabotage his work – breaking up his group’s protests, and arresting Kasparov from time to time.

If you’re in London, In the Holy Fire of Revolution is running as a part of the Human Rights Watch sponsored London International Film Festival. You can catch it next week at either the Clapham Picturehouse or the Curzon Renoir. And I imagine it’ll be out on DVD soon enough.

Has anyone seen In the Holy Fire of Revolution yet? What did you think?


  • I would be interested to hear what it would mean to be good at politics in Putin’s Russia from an opposition perspective. That is, if you consider the Putin regime a KGB oligarchy that’s looting the country, as Kasparov does. If everyone who tries to, forgive the cliche, “change the regime from within” ends up totally exploited and marginalized, or worse. It’s not as if this is a fair contest, decided by skill, to make the usual chess analogy. Being in open opposition to the Kremlin defines your “success” quite well on its own right now, as it does under most authoritarian regimes.

    Or do you really think a more skilled politician in real opposition to Putin would win an election in Russia today? Get arrested less (or more) often? Raise more money? Measuring by standard democratic objectives for success isn’t really on in Russia, alas. In some situations you need people with different skills. Being loud and getting attention isn’t a bad skill set at the moment.

  • What would be a good opposition politician? Simple – someone who engages with the people of Russia well and convinces a decent amount of Russians to follow him.

    I don’t think any liberal-democratic opposition politician has much of a chance in Russia at the moment – definitely no chance of winning an election against the machinery of state. The contest certainly is not fair. But I do think a good liberal-democratic politicians could do considerably better than Kasparov in motivating people and of building a movement.

    The problem with Kasparov is that he does a brilliant job of gathering support outside of Russia. That’s a very valuable thing, and I respect him for it. But inside of Russia, Kasparov just doesn’t have enough credibility to make a difference.

    I’m sure there are people in Russia who could make a huge difference. It’s just a shame that no-one with the skills and credibility has yet had the courage (or, perhaps, vision) to stick their head above the parapet and actually give people a different choice.

  • No one liberal-democratic opposition politician in Russia has any serious chance to be elected in any elections. 80% of Russians are more anti-liberal than Putin.
    They still remember those 90s very good and do not want to have a deja vu. And the new liberals are not actually new. They are from those who were responsible for 90s in Russia. Kasparov is very close to them and hated by most of population because of that.
    On March 11 of this year, the RIAN, a mass media agency, appointed a liberal ex-emigrant as chief editor replacing the old one on website and forum translating and discussing Western articles about Russia. Their idea was making it more liberal oriented.
    As a result, approximately 200 thousand of visitors collected money from their donation and founded their own new replica site which keeps the old policy of the former InoSMI site.
    People there are ready to pay their own money to have an opportunity to outcast their hatred to the liberal ideas.
    Now the new website is number 1 rated in the Russian Internet.
    Actually, Mr Kasparov would be in a great danger if he protested with his supporters without guards of the Russian police.

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