Staunton, September 28 – The Putin regime is offering the people of the Russian Federation a third social compact to replace the two earlier ones that have failed, Valery Solovey says; and unlike them, this one is based on the notion that Russians must support the current regime or things will get even worse for the country or for them individually.
In a brief comment on the Kasparov.ru portal, the MGIMO professor says that between 2003 and 2014, the relationship between the powers that be and the population was based on the following “economic” contract: the people would agree to give up freedom and democracy in exchange for material improvements in their lives (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57EAAE834958C).
When the collapse of oil prices made it impossible for the state to meet its half of the bargain and thus raised the possibility of widespread dissension, Solovey says, Putin offered a second deal, one based on “patriotic” feelings in which the population would be willing to put up with hardship in exchange for “the annexation of Crimea and the restoration of former glory.”
Now, that patriotic deal is collapsing, and so the powers that be are offering a new one: “Support us or things will be much worse!” by which they mean there will be a Maidan or “a return to the cursed 1990s” or “the intervention of the West” or “civil war in Russia,” all alternatives designed to frighten people into supporting the current regime.
And in support of this argument, the powers that be have introduced a plethora of “punitive sanctions – legal, administrative, political-ideological, cultural and moral” – to ensure that no one is tempted to go beyond the limits of what the Kremlin is prepared to tolerate, the professor and frequent commentator says.
In some ways, Solovey suggests, this recalls the rules of convoys in the GULAG: “’a step to the left or to the right will be considered an attempt to flee, and jumping in place will be considered a provocation.’”