Staunton, January 7 – “There is nothing ‘hybrid’ in the Putin regime,” Boris Vishnevsky, Yabloko member of the St. Petersburg legislative assembly, says, thus adding his voice to the debate about whether Russia is a “hybrid” regime or simply a dictatorship by enumerating ten features of Putin’s rule (echo.msk.ru/blog/boris_vis/1905094-echo/).
(For a summary of the state of play of that discussion up to now, see znak.com/2017-01-06/gibridnyy_ili_avtoritarnyy_politologi_sporyat_o_rezhimah_v_rossii_i_na_ukraine and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/01/can-putins-hybrid-russia-transform.html.)
Vishnevsky lists the following ten characteristics of the Putin system:
1. “The monopolization of political power in the hands of the president and his administration.”
2. “The presence of a ruling party fused together with a nomenklatura-bureaucratic apparatus.”
3. “The monopolization of the media and the establishment of political censorship.”
4. “The absence of an independent judicial system.”
5. “The conversion of elections from a mechanism of changing those in power into one for keeping them there.”
6. “The adoption of key government decisions out of the public eye.”
7. “The equation of opposition activity to enemy activity.”
8. “The creation for the country of a model of ‘a besieged fortress; surrounded by enemies who are constantly threatening it and with ‘traitors’ and ‘a fifth column’ within who are supported by these enemies.”
9. “The main direction of legislation is the creation of obstacles for the realization of constitutional rights and the generation of ever new prohibitions and limitations.”
10. “The absolute priority of ‘state interests’ over the interests of the individual, the primacy of the state over society, the elevation of ‘security’ as the highest value which supposedly is constantly under threat.”
All this makes the Putin regime similar to the Stalinist one and explains why there is “the creeping restoration of Stalinism,” Vishnevsky says. Moreover, “practically all these features were observed in the USSR over the greater part of the period of its existence.”
“Replace ‘United Russia’ with the CPSU, the president with the General Secretary, the Central Committee with the Presidential Administration, and the State Duma with the USSR Supreme Soviet and the analogy will be practically complete,” the St. Petersburg legislator continues.
Consequently, this is no “’hybrid’ regime.” “Nothing of the kind. It is an authoritarian regime with elements of totalitarianism.” And calling Putin’s regime “a hybrid one,” he continues, “is not simply unsuccessful but leads people away from the essence of Putinism,” just as talk about Putin’s “hybrid” war in Ukraine led people to fail to see that it was and is a war.