Staunton, August 30 – Russia’s kvas patriots are spending so much time congratulating themselves about what they see as Moscow’s victory in the information war that they are ignoring not only shortcomings in that struggle but the danger that Putin could be succeeded by “a new Khrushchev” because he hasn’t created a self-sustaining system.
That is the judgment of Yury Baranchik, a commentator for the Regnum news agency, and both his suggestions – that Russia is not doing as well in the information war as many believe and that Putin has not managed to put in place a system that will outlast him – merit attention (regnum.ru/news/polit/1959331.html).
The Regnum commentator focuses on what he suggests are the delusions of the kvas patriots that “we (Russia, Putin, the Kremlin, Russians, etc.) have already defeated out geopolitical opponents (or partners however one likes to call them) on all fronts, political, financial-economic, information and so on.”
Baranchik says that such views are “deeply mistaken and dangerous” for three reasons. First, all Russia has succeeded in doing is stop retreating both on the post-Soviet space and more generally. It has not swept the board as so many in Russia now think.
Second, despite what some think and in the face of evidence that makes this conclusion “laughable,” “economically Russia is still very dependent on external factors … [and] tit is still far too early to say that we can like the Soviet Union oppose the entire Western world as the Soviet Union did.”
And third, Russia has not won the information war at least internationally. “There is a time to throw stones and a time to collect them.” Russians need to impose order “in their own ranks” and get to work. Imagine if the Red Army after the Civil War had gone around saying “’the Red Army is stronger than all others’” and not gotten down to the job of construction.
Russia today is clearly not stronger than all, and it is delusional to suggest, as some Russian writers do, that any successes of the West are not products of its superior positions in politics and economics but the result of some kind of clever game by Moscow to draw the West in in order to defeat it.
Whatever one thinks, Russia has not won the international information war. “For all of 2015, mentions of Russia in world media did not exceed two percent. What kind of ‘a victory’ can be said to exist in such a context.” And it is time to ask: “what means does Russia possess for victory in the world media” and “what world media today belong to us?”
“The answer is obvious,” Baranchik continues. And “if today we do not possess the means needed for victory then how can we talk about victory? Yes, inside Russia today it is possible to say that the patriots are more or less well represented in the media. But the question arises: This is now while Putin is in office. But what if the situation changes?”
Indeed, even domestically, not everything is in order in the media battle; and abroad, it is even worse for Russia. “It is necessary to soberly look at things in the face” rather than delude oneself with claims that everything is going well and that Russia is winning or in the minds of some has already won.
“Without the restoration of full sovereignty over our own information space, including the entire spectrum [of media channels], there is no basis for speaking about victory in the information war or even about achieving a draw,” as some would put it, the Regnum commentator argues.
“Let us be open – today all the influence and weight of Russia in the world depends on one man – Vladimir Putin, including in the information component of the influence of Russia in the world,” he says. If he were not on the scene, “you can be certain right here many leading major patriotic spaces would change course 180 degrees.”
In that situation, “today’s leading liberals without any problems would pass today’s patriots on the path to all governing bodies. They would admit you to the part and ask for whom you voted in the elections, because in reality, several stages of power in Russia have not been changed.”
According to Baranchik, “it is a good thing that Putin is her, but there is no system. And there must be a system, a clan, ‘a Russian Order,’ ‘an Orthodox-Muslim Order,’ ‘a party of revolutionaries,’ the Russian political class, call it what you like. But it must be in place and work.”
Russia, he says, “must have a guarantee” that after Putin’s departure, “in his place will be dozens of leaders analogous to his personal potential.” If that doesn’t happen, Baranchik says, then “there is a high probability that a new Khrushchev will replace Stalin,” a comment that says more than he perhaps intends but one that undoubtedly will disturb many kvas patriots.