Staunton, November 17 – Moscow now has a new state ideology, “Russian fundamentalism,” which views the Russian people as the bearer of a special morality, rejects the West as a model, sees Russia as an eternal empire, and is confident in its “special historical mission” in the world, Irina Pavlova says.
The Russian people overwhelmingly accept that ideology, the US-based Russian historian says, and they will support Vladimir Putin’s enthronement as “national leader” after the presidential “elections” (newizv.ru/comment/irina-pavlova/17-11-2017/novoy-gosudarstvennoy-ideologiey-stanet-russkiy-fundamentalizm-045d4d96-9ae5-4bb6-98b5-8d63e57a4c6b).
Pavlova says that the outlines of this ideology and Putin’s role were provided a decade ago by Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, a functionary of the United Russia Party (kreml.org/opinions/164932766/). At the time, many dismissed his words as only a personal opinion and suggested that he went too far. But intervening events suggest otherwise.
“For me,” the historian writes in Novyye izvestiya, “the value of the Sultygov document is that the author unintentionally introduced clarity on the issue of the character of political power in Russia.” That power was and is “not ‘administered’ or ‘sovereign’ democracy” or even “’imitation democracy.’” Instead, he made clear the regime is and should be a dictatorship.
According to Sultygov, “Putin’s activity has become a manifestation of the idea of national-state unity of Russia,” of its uniqueness and thus apartness and hostility to the West, a set of ideas that Russians overwhelmingly support and that can best be described by the term “Russian fundamentalism,” Pavlova continues.
Sultygov’s essay appeared as Russia was about to hold elections for the Duma, elections that he suggested were not about the competition of parties and ideas but rather “an all-national referendum in support of the Putin Plan.” That thesis “is true today as well about the upcoming pseudo-elections of March 2018.
No real elections are possible in Russia under Putin, but that is fine with Sultygov and those who agree with him. “Adapting his ideas to the new reality, one can suggest that on the basis of the results of ‘the election’-referendum will be introduced not only “the special status of Putin as national leader … but also ‘the institution of national leader’ as such.”
He will thus be officially enthroned, to use Sultygov’s words, as “’the highest personified institution of the representative power of the Russian people which will carry out in the name of the people civic control over the execution of his will as expressed in the results of the upcoming presidential election.”
Sultygov wrote ten years ago that this would occur via a Civic Assembly of the Russian Nation, a special body that after doing this would remain as “a constantly acting space for the promulgation of the messages of the national leader to ‘the Russian people and the policy forming class.’”
Such an arrangement would suit Putin perfectly, Pavlova says. “A national leader is forever. He is also the foundation of the nation and the guarantor of the preservation of power.” And any complaints can be directed not at him but at the president or prime minister, two posts subordinate to him.
This is “a typical Byzantine” arrangement, Pavlova says, yet another indication of the triumph of Russian fundamentalism as Moscow’s ideology of the 21st century.