Staunton, May 27 – As in Stalin’s times, Sergey Mitrofanov writes, “imperial goals dominate” the public space and the Russian people welcome the restoration not only of the Soviet Union but of imperial values, something Russian liberals are unable to fight “first because they are Russians and second because they are wholly part of the totalitarian milieu.”
The response of the Russian people to the annexation of Crimea, the intervention in the Donbass, and Vladimir Putin’s tough line about the Kurile islands has been so overwhelmingly positive, the opposition commentator suggests, that there have to be concerns in all the parts of the former Soviet Union (ej.ru/?a=note&id=29718).
A few days ago, he writes in today’s “Yezhednevny zhurnal,” some were raising concerns that Russia was behind the protest wave in Kazakhstan and would seek to use it for Moscow’s own purposes. Consequently, “the concerns of the Baltic states are completely based in reality.”
“The emigration of Russians to the Baltics is growing, but what if tomorrow, they too become infected with the imperial virus?” he asks.
But the greatest signs of restorationism are in Russia itself. Among the most striking:
· “Cossacks are again in the service of the secret police and attacking opposition figures.” Some of their number are even swearing their allegiance to “Tsar Putin.”
· Officials are carrying pictures of Nicholas II to May Day demonstrations and using tsarist motifs in their meetings.
· Pro-Kremlin journalist Maksim Sokolov is suggesting that there should be a new popular assembly to proclaim a new tsar, something that he says could easily be arranged and would find widespread support.
· And a senior scholar is calling for new laws to allow the 27 million Soviet citizens to cast votes in the next elections, truly an example of “the dead hand” of the past on the future and a “completely creative” development of Stalin’s ideas about “the bloc of party and non-party” people.
Of course, Mitrofanov says, Putin may draw on the more contemporary approach of the Tajikistan president who has had himself declared “the founder of the world and national unity” and declared that he, like a monarch, will rule as long as he is alive.
Tragically, “this is a staircase leading only downward,” the commentator concludes, and “the new ’17 Russia will meet rwith a weak liberal sector (partially as a result of degradation and conformism of the educated class) and powerful authoritarian tendencies on the right and on the left.
That is the real restoration, one that may very well end by pushing Russia yet again into a vicious circle of chaos and totalitarianism.