Putin Threatened Not Only by Falling Oil Prices but Also by Oil’s Declining Importance, Yakovenko Says
July 23 – Many argue that the fate of Vladimir Putin and his regime depend on
the price of oil, but a more important factor in his and its longterm survival
may be a secular trend that is even more strongly tilted against them: the declining
importance of oil as a component of the world’s energy resources, according to
the 1970s, the Russian commentator points out, oil supplied 50 percent of the
world’s energy needs; now, it meets about 30 percent; and with each passing
year, that share is declining further – and with it the prospects that a ruler
like Putin and a regime like his can survive (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5792FD7757CA1).
the impact of this trend so far has been limited not so much by the meme of the
victory of the television over the refrigerator, of propaganda over the
standard of living, but rather by the victory of the couch, of an unwillingness
on the part of the population to take action, over both, Yakovenko says.
now, many are comparing Putin with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: both
have imperial dreams and both are dictators. But there is one big difference:
Erdogan has a political force that he can use against progress -- “the
fanaticism of Orthodox Muslims” – and Putin does not.
Yakovenko says, Russia as a result of Putin’s actions is increasingly isolated.
Not only has Brexit not worked as Putin planned – Britain has just voted to
modernize its nuclear shield because of the Russian threat – and the US has
been anything but intimidated. President Barack Obama has even compared Putin
with ISIS, Ebola and North Korea.
Putin has lost even Russia’s former allies in Europe. The Serbs who have often
followed Moscow blindly now are seeking to join not his Eurasian Union but the
EU. “There is thus not a single European country which would be an ally of the regime
of Vladimir Putin,” the commentator points out. Its “isolation” is complete as
the doping scandal shows.
isolation and declining importance have real consequences, he continues,
consequences that those in the regime who increasingly appear to be living in “an
alternative reality” are only adding to, driving some Russians to leave the countries
and most others at least so far to retire to the couch.
this situation,” Yakovenko continues, “the only chance to keep Russia from an
inevitably bloody scenario of disintegration is the replacement of the powers
that be with cardinal changes in its system of rule.”
far as changes of power are concerned, there are several possible variants
suggested by events elsewhere. But “the majority of them are impossible in
Russia.”There won’t be a Turkish style
coup or foreign intervention, and that means that there remain only “two
variants, which could reinforce one another and form a certain symbiosis.”
are efforts to elect opposition figures to the Duma and “at the same time,” to
mobilize “protest groups of citizens in peaceful street actions.”But “alas, the chances for such a symbiosis
are extremely limited.”
who had hoped for another outcome have believed that ultimately the
refrigerator will defeat the television, but it has turned out, Yakovenko says,
that “these two appliances have declared an armistice and yield to a still stronger
piece of home furnishing – the couch” to judge from new research.
research has found, he points out, that “people with higher incomes are
watching television less but are also less critical of the authorities. Not
because they agree with them ideologically but simply because” they are
prepared to play by the current rules set by the powers that be which so far work
to their benefit.
the same time, Yakovenko says, those lower down on the income pyramid, the
research shows, are “not inclined to get rid of television. On the contrary,
they are to an ever greater degree slaves of television and have entered TV
reality even while not in agreement with television propaganda.”
combination of these two approaches, he says, is pushing ever more Russians to
the couch, where they may feel distrust but from which they are not inclined to
rise and act. This “victory of the Couch” is “becoming extremely probable at the
upcoming Duma elections in September” with even opponents of the Putin regime
unlikely to vote in large numbers.
only thing one can hope for, Yakovenko concludes, is that “by its inadequate
actions,” the powers that be will “finally push Russians to get up from the
Couch and do away with a regime that has already alienated everyone else on the