President Vladimir Putin has appointed the leader of the United Russia faction in the State Duma Andrei Vorobyev as acting head of Moscow Region, replacing Sergei Shoigu, who has been appointed Minister of Defence.
This is no doubt the preferable development in view of the alternatives – stagnation or civil war. In this case, as predicted by numerous commentators on left and right, and also by certain individuals, who change their spots in line with the current mood, aka former RAO UES head and current Rusnano head Anatoly Chubais, the lull in existing protest marches will be replaced by a renewal of peaceful protest first seen following the plainly fabricated parliamentary results in late 2011.
Notwithstanding the current crackdowns on protest through new legislation and on expression of alternative views through legislation allegedly implemented to combat treason and child pornography, but highly cynical, given that Orthodox monasteries are in the habit of harbouring brothels in Moscow these days, it is indeed possible that large-scale protests will keep happening. Indeed, the more the Kremlin cracks down on the opposition, the more people will come out on the streets. I find it hard to believe that Russian soldiers would shoot on their own people, so the current regime is more likely to fall like a pack of cards.
If a repeat of 1991 is possible, then hopefully there will be a transfer of power without the loss of too many lives. The question is who will emerge in charge? It is highly unlikely that Navalny, Nemtsov or Udaltsov will garner the support of the majority of the decision-makers to take over, so they can be ruled out for the time being. They would be more likely to come to the fore in the event of a more bloody scenario.
This leaves us with people that are trying to maintain in the electorate’s eyes some distance from the powers that be, in other words billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and the reformer of the electricity sector, Anatoly Chubais. They would be able to cajole and persuade the powers that be that they need to stand aside, in some cases emigrate (i.e., President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as their actual role in the plight of the Russian nation and the level of their personal corruption would make their continuing presence in Russia a destabilising force. It would be good to see them exiled to North Korea for their sins, but that appears unlikely. It is more probable that some accommodating European country would take them in).
It is another question whether the general public would allow them to stay in charge for too long, as they would represent a quasi democracy. However, they might prove useful as transitional characters, as other more worthy candidates emerge.
Some people would say that civil war has been a constant for the past two decades contrary to the views of State Duma speaker Naryshkin, who believes that this is an idyllic time in Russia’s history. In actual fact parts of the Caucasus have been in a state of perpetual unrest ever since late President Boris Yelsin launched the first onslaught on Chechnya in the 1990s.
If the current stagnation intensifies and more and more people end up poor, while the Kremlin cracks down severely on all forms of dissent either through crippling legislation or through arrests and violent responses to any street protest, a large number of uncontrollable forces could take centre stage, primarily right-wing nationalists, an extension of the nascent fascism among the powers that be. Given the ethnic composition of the Russian population, even minor incidents could trigger a violent reaction throughout Russia, leading to civil war and to secessionist movements. Given that the Russian authorities have aided and abetted secession in other former Soviet republics, they will have no leg to stand on if Tatarstan, for example, sought secession, in particular if violence is erupting in other parts of Russia.
Against the backdrop of bloody and repressive crackdowns, the lack of media outlets providing a picture of developments due to the Kremlin’s shutdown of all opposition voices, violence would be likely to erupt in different republics, leading to various terrorist acts and hampering production and exports of Russia’s natural resources, which are key to federal revenues.
Investment will dry up, the federal centre will lose control and different factions will fight for control in what could be, as Naryshkin might put, a new Time of Troubles, the result of the current policies implemented by Naryshkin and the Kremlin.
This is the most harrowing potential development in Russia, a development that is feared more and more by people in Russia. Indeed such fear may be the only sentiment that is preventing the worst-case scenario from coming to fruition – at least for the time being.
As reported in the Russian media, on 31 October 2012 the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s Federal Assembly, approved amendments to the law on treason that effectively makes virtually any interaction between Russian citizens and international agencies, such the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, a treasonable offence. A number of international organisations have already taken the hint and shut up shop. Naturally such developments are negative for investment, signalling as they do that independent thinking is tantamount to betrayal.
So now it will become even harder to criticise the powers that be. The Kremlin may believe that it has now found a way to silence all opposition to its policies and thereby pacify the population through continual propaganda on state TV channels. However, this will merely push the protest movement underground and brings back memories of the Soviet Union and double speak, with the people spouting the party line in public, but the truth back home in disputes and discussions in their kitchens.
And as everyone knows, the Soviet Union collapsed like a deck of cards, luckily without significant bloodshed. The next time round could prove more bloody, as protesters have seen how former Soviet citizens have exploited the system to the benefit of a few and the detriment of the majority.
So President Putin should think twice before signing such amendments to the law. Surely it is better to know what people think and thereby release the tension, rather than to seek to silence opposing voices and thereby legitimise protest in the people’s eyes?
The much maligned former head of RAO UES Anatoly Chubais, who played up the role of democrat under President Yeltsin and morphed into a leading government figure under President Putin, before accepting a cushy position as head of Rusnano, a state corporation tasked with investing in nanotechnologies, appears to be hedging his bets.
In an interview with Itogi magazine in October 2012, Chubais said that the protest movement, which erupted after the falsified parliamentary elections in December 2011, only to go to ground after the presidential elections, was not dead and that on the contrary it was merely slumbering and would rise with new strength, with future protest meetings attracting up to half a million people. He also intimated that demand for political transformation and the reaction of the powers that be would play a decisive role in Russia’s future development, adding that a middle class has been formed in Moscow, St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, but lacks clear leaders.
Chubais did not go any further, so he is clearly hedging his bets. He has in the past harboured political ambitions, leading as he did the United of Rightist Forces in the 1990s until 2003, before focusing on completion of the reforms at the electrical power monopoly RAO UES until 2008, whereupon he was appointed to Rusnano.
If he still harbours political ambitions, then he would clearly love to lead such a protest movement of a burgeoning middle class and might well understand their concerns and demands. However, he would clearly have to demonstrate independence from the powers that be and criticise the Kremlin.
It remains to be seen whether Chubais is ready to make such a break.
So the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin’s regime can be content, demonstrating their lack of compassion or any conscience in their decision to exile two of the member’s of Pussy Riot to colonies in Perm and Mordovia for mocking Putin in a so-called place of worship. As reported in The Guardian, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will serve sentences far from home.
How can the Orthodox Church pretend to be a church when it lacks such compassion? How can Putin claim to rule for all the Russian people when two young girls are exiled to harsh prisons?These girls didn’t kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed, whereas the powers that be in Russia and various republics have blood on their hands.
It is a sick joke, made all the sicker in that the powers that be, the powers defining state policy and issues of religious tolerance don’t care about their own people.
Both Alyokhina and Tolonnikova have young children of their own.
Shame on you, Putin, shame on you, United Russia, and last, but not least, shame on you, the Russian Orthodox Church.
So why did Vladimir Putin cry on hearing the presidential election results?
He knew that they had been rigged!
Given that he didn’t cry when the Kursk sank, leading to the loss of Russian lives and instead made a cruel joke about the incident on US TV, it has to be assumed that these were tears of joy:
I have the following conjecture that has not been proposed yet by the mainstream media.
Putin plans to follow in the footsteps of his comrade from Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and engineer his domination on the Russian political scene until his final days.
In other words, at some point, presumably sooner rather than later, the servile State Duma will propose the adoption of a law declaring that Putin will be President for Life.
If he decides to step down at some point, he will still be able to control the new president from behind the scenes, stepping in and deposing the new President “in response to the public mood” or for some other reason.
Furthermore, the new law will state that Putin cannot be charged for any crimes committed while in office (such as the amassing of a fortune rumoured to exceed USD 20 billion in assets through various interests in different businesses (shares in LUKOIL, Gunvor, Rosneft, etc.) and also cash accounts in Switzerland, Germany, etc.
You heard it here first on 9 March 2012.