Does Symbol of ‘Putin Stability’ Now Threaten His Future? Yekaterinburg Site Asks
June 2 – “Political projects of the Russian authorities are born with much pomp
but die quietly,” the editors of the Yekaterinburg portal Politsovet say,
pointing to the Uralvagonzavod plant from being “a synonym of ‘Putin
stability’” in 2011 to one now on the verge of collapse that carries with it a
very real threat to that stability.
then Prime Minister Putin was running for a third presidential term and chose
Uralvagonzavod as emblematic of “a new mythology” about the stability he had brought
the country and a “new social foundation” for his future presidency.
were compelling reasons to choose precisely this Urals factory. It was a
defense plant and thus symbolized the Kremlin’s commitment to the revival of
Russian military power.And its workers
were from rural areas and thus from what was then and now “Putin’s political
base,” the editors say.
Putin was elected in March 2012, the plant continued to be featured in the
media.One of its managers became the
presidential plenipotentiary for the Urals FD, and another became a Duma deputy
and vice president of the regional staff of the Popular Front. And the plant’s
managers pushed themselves forward by talking about new tanks and other
PR activity, the editors continue, was designed to show that “everything was in
order with Putin’s stability,” that Russian tanks were the best and fastest,
and that the Kremlin leader “as before” was overseeing the well-being not only
of the country as a whole but of individual plants and workers.
year, they note, “everything has come to an end.”At the end of 2016, Putin transferred
ownership of Uralvagonzavod to Rostekh, a move that saw the departure of the
former management team and the installation of a new one. As a result, “not a
trace” remains of the former public face of the factory in the media.
It soon became
obvious that the reason for this was that the factory has simply run out of
money. New orders weren’t coming in, lines were being closed down, and workers
were having their hours cut or even their jobs taken away.And now it appears that the much-ballyhooed
factory is simply closing down for good.
enterprise’s workers who six years ago felt themselves to be Putin’s favored
base no longer feel that way, Politsovet says.And so Uralvagonzavod is coming to symbolize something very different
than it did only a few years ago: real problems with “Putin stability” and real
problems not only with that defense plant but with others and in other sectors
generally, the editors say, “see how ‘the Putin plant’ if it is not going to
the bottom at a minimum is experiencing very tough times: problems with pay,
the lack of big projects, and the loss of image” are all having a negative
impact on public opinion and becoming not simply a crisis for the plant but one
for Putin’s regime.
are likely to get worse in the run-up to the presidential election, Politsovet
concludes. “the closer to election day, the more often will be recalled the
events of six years ago,” events that make what is happening now appear even
worse than might otherwise be the case.