By and large, politicians in the U.S. and Europe have been supportive of the democratic revolutions breaking out all over the Middle East. But the reaction in Russia has been a little different. The Wall Street Journal noted this afternoon that many Russian heads of state are taking a skeptical or even sinister view of the populist uprisings in the Arab world.
Gregory White for the Journal reports that "some in the Russian leadership believe the current string of revolutions in the Mideast ... is the result of western instigation. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, seen as one of the country's most powerful officials and a top hardliner, hinted in an interview that Google Inc. executives played a role in 'manipulating the energy of the people' in Egypt." By speculating about a link between Google and Mubarak's ouster, Sechin, whether he knows it or not, is echoing some of Glenn Beck's nuttiest dot-connecting to date.
But almost as striking is senior legislator Sergei Markov's take on the Middle East upheavals. "It annoys the Kremlin that the West seems to support any revolution," Markov is quoted as saying in the Journal. "We in Russia have seen revolutions, and they often start out like the February one and end like the one in October." (Markov is talking about the February Revolution and the October Revolution, two uprisings that bookended the year 1917 in Russia. In February the Tsar was deposed; in October the Bolsheviks took his place.)
The revolutions currently underway in the Middle East seem like seismic events by any measure, so why is Markov talking about them like a jaded scenester? Oh, we know all about revolutions. We were doing that before you heard about it on Facebook. If Russia wants to play "been there, done that," it's maybe worth noting that America and Europe had racked up some pretty great revolutions before Grigori Rasputin was even born. Plus, if you want to put the present historical moment in context, there are way more examples to draw upon than just the power transfers of 1917. Though caution is always a good idea, not everything is about you, Russia.