Staunton, November 25 – Despite the view many have that Russia and Putin are a good fit, a Moscow columnist argues that Russians “do not deserve” to have Vladimir Putin as their ruler, that “sooner or later,” he will leave the scene because he “isn’t immortal,” but that the longer he stays in office, the longer and harder it will be to overcome his legacy.
In a commentary on Snob.ru, Nikolay Klimenyuk says that he had always assumed that North Korea had been “thought up specially to disprove the popular thesis that each people has the government it deserves” but that recent events there have dissuaded him from making that assumption (snob.ru/selected/entry/68260).
Watching young North Korean women in military garb singing “Katyusha” equivalents while playing guitar during a broadcast played on a widescreen LG television in a retro Korean restaurant in Moscow was enough for that, the commentator says. And it has prompted him to re-examine the entire idea.
Several years ago, he continues, he asked Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, whether he thought that Berlin had helped Putin to become who and what he as. Fischer “as a genuine diplomat” replied “What could we do? You arrange things yourselves; this is your government.
One very much wonders, Klimenyuk speculates, whether Fischer “would have said the same” about the East Germans in the GDR.
Nonetheless, the writer continues, “the idea that it deserves Putin is very popular in Russia” among both conservative and liberal circles. “And even if [some would say that Russia] doesn’t deserve [the Kremlin leader], it is stupid to deny that Russia and Putin correspond to one another rather well.”
The longer he is in office, the more this is the case, Klimenyuk says. That’s “completely logical” as the authorities and the elites set the standards for social relations and “indicate what is possible and what is correct. And then society begins to do precisely that.” But the tragedy of Russia now is just what messages the authorities and the elites are sending.
The Germans have an expression, “salonfahig,” he continues, which means something on the order of “acceptable in polite society.” It is typically used “in the most negative context” because Germans fear like the plague the legitimation of stupidity and disorder.”
But now “in Russia under the administration of Putin, there doesn’t remain anything that is unacceptable.” The Russian president has accepted ideas and appointed people who have made “cruelty, obscurantism, and fundamentalism the norm” and elevated “pseudo-science” and “open falsification” to an unprecedented level.
“Russia of course does not deserve Putin with his Serdyukov, Milonov and Medinsky. Deserving, intelligent, and educated people could rule it just like they do in any other country.” Even Dmitry Medvedev with all his limitations would be better because he would do less to undermine freedom and modernization in the ways that Putin has.
“Sooner or later, this will end,” Klimenyuk says. “In the final analysis,” Putin “isn’t immortal. Who will replace him almost doesn’t ddepend on the condition of public morality. The bad news, however, “is that the longer Putin remains, the longer it will take once he goes to improve the situation.”