Monday, November 19, 2012

Window on Eurasia: ‘Russian Fundamentalism Unites the Authorities, the Elite, the People and the Opposition,’ Pavlova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – Contrary to many opponents of the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a vision for the future and is not in a weak position, Grani commentator Irina Pavlova says, because his “Russian fundamentalism” now “unites the authorities, the elite, the people and [even] the opposition.

            In an essay posted online today, Pavlova, one of the most thoughtful observers of the Moscow political scene, says that she cannot understand “the hopes” of people like Andrey Piontkovsky and those who share his views that the Kremlin will soon face “mass civil disobedience” and “the split of the elites” (

            How could that happen anytime soon, she asks with obvious regret, “when even the protest movement [that does exist in the Russian Federation] shows itself to be atomized to the extreme” and when no one goes into the streets to protest the increasingly repressive actions of Putin and his regime?

            A sober consideration of the facts, Pavlova argues, requires that one acknowledge that “over the last decade, ‘the Soviet paradigm’ in mass consciousness not only has not been destroyed but has not been subject to pressure.” Instead, the people of the country “were and remain a state people, completely dependent on the powers that be.”

            More than that, she continues, “today as a result of the aggressive propaganda of anti-Westernism and great power chauvinism, this ‘soviet paradign’ has taken the form of Russian great power chauvinism which one can with complete justification call Russian fundamentalism.”

            This doctrine views the ethnic Russian people as “the bearer of a special ‘cultural code, a special morality and a special feeling of justice.” Moreover, it rejects the “spiritually lacking West as a model of social development. It views Russia as “an empire and a great power.  And it is convinced of its own “special historical mission.”

            Russian fundamentalism unites everyone, including the “extra-systemic” opposition, Pavlova says. And thus it is now appropriate to say that “Russian fundamentalism” has not been imposed on the people but rather represents “a conscious choice of the people” despite their access to far more information than their forefathers had in Soviet times.

            This paradigm is “a powerful weapon in the hands of the Russian authorities,” and its acceptance by nearly everyone is why talk about a split in the elite or mass disobedience is so disingenuous.  The powers that be have a policy for the future; it just isn’t the liberal one that some would like.

the Mercury Club, they would quickly recognize this reality, Pavlova Says.  That club has existed for ten years, and the speech Primakov gave to it in January of this year laid out exactly what Putin has done since (

Primakov called Putin “the optimal figure” for the position of Russian president. He called for an anti-corruption drive directed at all ranks. And he  said that the organizers of anti-Kremlin meetings were seeking to “attract under anti-government banners those who justly or unjustly are dissatisfied with the existing orders” in the country.

So much for the idea that Primakov and those like him will provoke a split in the elite, the Grani commentator says.  “To the unaided eye, it is clear that precisely [his recommendations] are now being carried into life” by Vladimir Putin.

It is clear, she says, that the Putin regime, “having chosen the Stalinist model of development for the country, hopes that it will be able to impose it without ‘excesses’” because it has learned the lessons of the past.  It has “well studied the West” and is quite capable of using “for its own goals” not only Western technical specialists but Western intellectuals.”

With striking “virtuosity,” the Putin government has mastered the art of ‘the clash of opinions,’ so much so that it comes out on top every time in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the population.”  And it has “learned to channel dissatisfaction” so much so that even predictions of the regime’s collapse are “a kind of narcotic for the dissatisfied.”

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