Staunton, July 20 – When Rostec head Sergey Chermezov paid for Putin’s and Medvedev’s ice cream cones with a 5,000-ruble (90 US dollar) bill and reports swirled about a two million US dollar elite wedding, the growing gulf between the Kremlin leader’s “nomenklatura” and the rest of the population was on full view, Ivan Preobrazhensky says.
Indeed, in a comment for Deutsche Welle, the Russian historian says that the divide separating Putin’s entourage and the increasingly impoverished Russian people is now far larger than was the case with the nomenklatura in Soviet times (dw.com/ru/комментарий-три-толстяка-в-очереди-за-мороженым/a-39748392).
“The Russian ruling class,” Preobrazhensky continues, “having taken under its control almost all the resources in the country over the course of recent years has finally shifted into another reality having lost the chance to find a common understanding with the millions of Russians who now live in poverty.”
This ruling class, just like its Soviet predecessors, includes not just the top one percent but thousands of others who work for them and who are rewarded above all “for political loyalty” just as was the case with its predecessor in the USSR. And it is hated by the rest of society for exactly the same reasons.
Indeed, the historian suggests, Russians today have even more reason to hate the rulers because in Soviet times, they were guaranteed freely many things, admittedly of a very low quality, that now they have to pay for, something that means their poverty is more immediately and directly felt.
Formally, of course, Russia remains “a social state,” given that 65 percent of the population receives government support. But Russians do not receive these things equally: those on top receive far more than those in the increasingly numerous poor because the people on top are in a position to ensure that they themselves get taken care of first.
“Judging from everything,” Preobrazhensky says, “many citizens still do not recognize the fact of the appearance of a new nomenklatura. But this will certainly happen and in the not distant future. And again, as at the end of the 1980s, the issue of ‘social equalization’ will inevitably appear on the agenda.”
And the more those at the top act as if their benefits are theirs by rights, he says, “the greatre are the chances that the poor will seek justice by cutting off their heads.” Paying for ice cream with a large bill or having a wedding costing thousands of times the average salary of Russians is a perfect way to make that outcome more likely.