Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Chief Threat to the Putin System Isn’t Navalny: It’s Putin Himself, Novoprudsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 1 – Last Sunday’s marches against corruption highlight that “there really are certain aspects of a revolutionary situation in Russia, Semyon Novoprudsky says. But “the chief revolutionary isn’t Navalny but rather Putin who, beginning with the Crimean adventure has consistently destroyed the foundations of his own regime.”

            In a commentary for Kyiv’s Novoye vremya, the Russian journalist says that before Crimea, the Putin regime offered the country stability: “the people lived quietly and weren’t interested in politics, and we stole as we could and shared a bit with them” (

            But after the Crimean Anschluss and the imposition by the West of sanctions, he continues, the Kremlin changed its line and no longer talked about stability.  Instead, the only basis for the state and loyalty to it was “’war’ – cold, hot, hybrid, or any combination. The state stopped promising to make people’s lives better.”

            Instead, “it said that it is defending the people from imaginary enemies whom it names by itself.  No one is to ask ‘a savior’ about the ruble exchange rate or impoverishment,” Novoprudsky says.

            As a result, he continues, Russia over the last three years was “transformed from a corporatist state of ‘the friends of Putin’ into a full-blown militarist dictatorship,” in which all institutions were subordinate to a single individual and the survival of Russia was directly linked to the survival of that individual.

            Navalny’s marches “showed the vulnerability of that construction.”  People are no longer afraid to protest, but on the other hand, there is as yet “no clear all-national theme of protest” like the one in Ukraine when Yanukovich suddenly refused to sign the association agreement with the European Union.

            There is no point in appealing to this regime, Novoprudsky says. “It is stupid to demand from Putin the retirement of Medvedev given that the prime minister doesn’t decide anything in the country and that he is far from the only corrupt figure.”

            Moreover, “it is stupid to demand from Putin a real struggle with corruption because corruption for a long time already has been the format of relations of state and society at all levels … in this sense, the entire country has been corrupted and not only the powers that be,” the journalist continues.  Putin has been in office too long to correct this.

            “Russia is at an economic dead end which it is trying to compensate for by the sale to the world of threats of its military potential, its interference in the affairs of other states, and its capacity ‘to choose any president.’” Moreover, it has shown that “it isn’t afraid of violating international rules of the game.”

            But at the same time, “there is no mass hunger or military losses like those which accompanied the beginning of the February and then the October revolutions of 1917.”  And so one can “confidently” assert that while the Russian authorities now must focus on saving themselves, this “doesn’t mean Navalny’s marches represent the start of a ‘Russian Maidan.’”

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