Staunton, January 13 – Irina Pavlova, one of the most thoughtful observers of the Moscow political scene, says that despite “the euphoria” of those who have taken part in the recent demonstrations, she “does not see in Russia a political crisis;” and for precisely that reason she sees chaos or neo-totalitarianism ahead.
In an essay on the Grani.ru portal, Pavlova argues that “there is no crisis “because “those who have taken part in the meetings have not met even that minimum condition necessary for putting non-violent pressure on the powers that be” that analysts agree are necessary to move from dictatorship to democracy (grani.ru/opinion/m.194777.html).
In Russia, she points out, the meetings “have stopped,” rather than continued as in Ukraine or Egypt. The “atomization of those protesting” had not been overcome; instead, it has only deepened” to the point where “literally a war of all against all has begun.” There is no common strategy, and there is “no unity” on the issue of “the monopoly of power.”
According to Pavlova, the December protests do reflect “the general state of Russian society,” that she says is “just as in 1991, pseudo-democratic.” There has been one major change, however. Twenty years ago, there was support for both “Western democratic ideals and eastern totalitarian habits.” Now, support for the former has fallen, while backing for the latter has risen.
Russian society, she continues,” perhaps really has fallen out of love for Vladimir Putin and is dissatisfied with its life, although this fact says more about the nature of society itself, in which all of three years ago was observed a diametrically opposed picture with almost 80 percent being satisfied with their lives.”
But then and now, the demonstrators put their hopes in “the powers.” “Without Putin but with the Powers.” Regardless of their place in the political spectrum, left, right or center, “everyone awaits for the moment when the Power will finally display ‘political will,’” something the demonstrators have not yet shown.
“That is why, despite the curses directed against ‘the national leader,’ Russia is condemned to have a new vozhd.” Indeed, Pavlova says, “one thing is clear: the new turn of historical development of the country dictates the strengthening of traditional Russian statehood and the enslavement of society with all the consequences that flow from that.”
A “democratic” alternative is simply not in view; it isn’t even in its cradle. Instead, few would dispute that “no democratic revolution took place in August 1991, although then too everyone was in a euphoric condition. But in the following years, the Russian power only strengthened its position,” subordinating all including “’the new Russians.’”
That is because the latter, while becoming rich through the possession of state property never had clear title to it as property owners. As a result, in “an irony of history,” these new Russian wealthy have found themselves in the position of “servants to the supreme power” rather than a new autonomous class.
That allowed “the power corporation, which also became a property owner to put under control not only the force structures but society as well, having made it into the object of its own manipulations,” Pavlova argues. And that is also true of the protesters whose meetings “play into the hands of the Power because they legitimate the election campaign in the eyes of the West.”
Consequently, she says, “the main question” now is whether the country can escape from a repetition of the Russian past. Can it avoid both a new “time of troubles” such as the one that it experienced in 1917 or a new wave of totalitarianism like the one that engulfed Russia in 1929?
Theoretically it can, but still only theoretically, the Russian analyst suggests, because “there are still no signs that businessmen are capable of challenging the supreme power and demanding from it guarantees of the rights of private property.” Instead, “all of them remain quiet.”
“No one even is trying to raise the principle question about the review of the results of privatization of the beginning of the 1990s and the establishment of honest rules of the gae. No one is trying to establish a normal liberal party. [And] no one is requiring a review of criminal cases and the freeing of thousands of prisoners who are serving time for economic crimes.”
Instead of doing that, the businessmen “preparing to buy property abroad, to throw money to the wind, and to invest the in football clubs no one needs rather than invest the in the development of their own country.” That helps the Kremlin “hold the in its power by cultivating their guilt complexes.”
Pavlova argues that “world history does not know any other path of establishing democratic procedures and institutes except for the affirmation of the right of private property.” That creates “the basis of the legal state in the West,” and without it, there will not be one in Russia anytime soon.
Consequently, to demand in the current circumstances honest elections, elections to a pseudo-parliament in which pseudo-parties sit is nonsense, a contradiction in terms, not to mention that these demands only help the powers to strengthen the façade of imitation democracy that they have thrown up.”
If things are to change, the Grani analyst continues, Russian society which “is interested in the free development of the country” must turn to the businessmen, “enlightening, organizing and educating their civic consciousness, convincing them to come out from under the wind of the powers that be.”
“Any other path is a path to neo-totalitarianism,” Pavlova continues, “with computers, I-phones, I-pads, with a new industrialization, but also with the traditional supreme power and a new enslavement” of the population.