Staunton, May 29 – An increasing number of Russians are finding it impossible to rally round the Kremlin now that it is demanding not only that they support Putin “personally” and “curse” the West but approve the increasingly arbitrary and excessive actions not only of a few senior officials but of ever more siloviki, according to Fyodor Krasheninnikov.
The Yekaterinburg political analyst says that “the times of the Crimean consensus seem a golden age about which only memories remain” because “now a sincere patriot must almost every day adopt the ‘required’ position on ever more inconvenient disputes” brought on by the actions of regime representatives (politsovet.ru/55432-konsolidaciya-vokrug-terrora.html).
This may be most obvious in the requirement that Russians not question the often absurd claims or actions of Dmitry Medvedev despite all the evidence showing them to be illegal or worse or of those by people like Usmanov or Burkhanovich who are lower down on the state latter but still are held up as models by the regime.
But these things “are not the worst that can happen,” Krasheninnikov says. “The worst are [Russia’s] law enforcement organs, loyality to which as a symbol of the faith of any patriot and guardian occupies a principle position. ‘A man in epaulets cannot be wrong!’ has become the thesis around which all defenders of the powers are forced to consolidate themselves.”
Any report of crimes or outrages by such people, be it the misuse of force, massive corruption, or mistreatment of prisoners, supporters of the regime are supposed to say, are either rejected as false or provocations or alternatively accepted as accurate but justified because those involved are wearing the uniform of the state.
The last such incident was the arrest of a young boy in Moscow who was reading Shakespeare on the street. “It would seem,” Krasheninnikov says, “that any normal individual would first of all reflect that such ‘a violation of the law’ does not represent any threat for those around him and in no way corresponds to the ferocity displayed by the police.
But that isn’t how regime loyalists responded. Instead, they said the police were right to act as they had and even demanded that the child’s parents be punished for allowing this to happen.
For them, “loyalty to senseless terror against unarmed and defenseless citizens, who have committed no crimes, is a new level of ‘patriotic’ consolidation.” But this isn’t really something new, the commentator says. It is what happens whenever support for the existing authoritarian state becomes an end in itself.
The state, for such “’patriots,’” he continues, “is precisely and above all the police” and thus they line up behind those who decide whom to beat and whom not to, something that has nothing to do with “attitudes toward Ukraine, Crimea and the West” and that is producing “a fatal split within [Russian] society.”
That split, Krasheninnikov argues, “is between those who with delight approve any manifestation of terror and force by any representative of the powers that be and those for whom the unending tightening of the screws and systemic use f force seems criminal and dnagers both for each of us and for our common future.”
This divide is becoming “ever wider and more dangerous,” he concludes, because “history teaches” that relying on “the ferocity of the police” has “not saved even a single regime” anywhere or at any time, even though it may have allowed some of them to last longer than might otherwise be the case.