Staunton, September 11 – The Duma election campaign demonstrates many things, Russian commentator Maksim Shevchenko says, and none more fateful than that “only Putin and his gang of siloviki link together the various regions of the country,” each of which now has “its own agenda,” while the country doesn’t have one as a whole.
The Moscow leaders have been making and then breaking promises for so long that no one is prepared to rely on them anymore, he continues in an essay posted on Kazan’s “Business-Gazeta” portal. Instead, some regions are trying to make a go of it on their own, “not thanks to but in spite of” Moscow (business-gazeta.ru/article/322321).
The Kremlin’s attempts to suggest otherwise show that Russia has become “a monarchy without monarchism, an empire without an imperial idea and a democracy without democratic procedures.” People are getting tired of this, something that Shevchenko suggests, “only the blind to not see.”
Shevchenko says that “a clan bureaucratic state has been built in Russia. In some places, this is stronger and in others weaker,” but it is a personalist dictatorship in which most people and most officials look to only one man – Vladimir Putin – for the solution of all problems rather than taking responsibility on their own.
There is no real opposition, he argues. The members of the four parliamentary parties operate by consensus and that has meant that they have “finally lost their microscopic claims to political content.” And the other parties, which the regime allows to operate as long as they don’t attract much support, don’t really affect the situation.
What the four systemic parties are about during this election, Shevchenko says, is eliminating any possibility of discussing major issues like rights and freedoms and getting people to focus on minuscule things. All this shows, in the current situation, that “the constitution doesn’t exist” and that “the people are not the source of power.”
According to Shevchenko, this is “a dead end” and will “inevitably lead to internal conflicts.” The system itself is “aging along with the people with whom it is associated.” It is becoming more sclerotic and less capable of effective action. These elections are only for show in the West and to keep the ruling elite in power, not to change anything.
Russia is “tired,” he says, “and it wants something new. The world is changing and we are again trying to keep the past.” That doesn’t work in families when a wife wants to leave her husband. Forcing them to stay in the same apartment only makes the two people hate one another even more.
Shevchenko says that “the rising of the tractor drivers, which has been suppressed by ‘the gendarmes, what is happening with Russia’s Muslims who are sitting as before in jail … and with the arrested [Russian] nationalists is a Stolypin type reaction.” It will end “if a Lenin is found who can formulate the goals and tasks in language everyone can understand.
Despite his criticism of the elections, Shevchenko says people should participate in order to keep the level of falsification down. “For example,” he says, “if 14 percent of the people vote, then the authorities will record 80 percent and divide the 66 percent among the ruling elite n order to solve their family issues.”
Thus, by voting, Russians will reduce the size of the number of ballots that can be falsified, Shevchenko says, although he acknowledges that “in certain regions, it is simply impossible to life without such falsifications.”