Staunton, March 30 – Suggestions by Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev and others that opposition figures are exploiting or even behind demonstrations about the horrific fire show that “the political system in Russia is so unbalanced” that the elite sees any criticism even the most natural as portending a revolution, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta.
And that in turn means, they argue in a lead article today that “it is extremely difficult to consider such a system stable” because the slightest complaint about anything is enough to cause the authorities to respond in the most authoritarian and foolish ways (ng.ru/editorial/2018-03-30/2_7201_red.html).
The Kemerovo tragedy prompted people in many cities to “go into the street with political demands: tell the truth about the causes of the tragedy and the number who died and hold local and regional authorities to account,” an entirely natural response to an event in which children and others died, the paper says.
But Tuleyev and others have responded by suggesting that opposition forces are exploiting the situation and rocking the boat. If they weren’t active, he suggested, the people would suffer in silence, rally around Vladimir Putin, and simply wait for the powers that be to do their jobs.
“In a normal system, one of the most important functions of an opposition is to confront the authorities with pointed questions and to become a mouthpiece for public opinion in critical situations. Do these politicians gain from that? Yes, of course. But this is the inevitable effect when the opinions of citizens are heard and listened to.”
But by suggesting that the population shouldn’t protest in such situations is to lead the Russian people to conclude that “the Kemerovo tragedy was not an accident but a systemic flaw” because banning talk about them suggests that they are first and foremost political issues, exactly the opposite message the powers want to send.
“The current ruling elite has been in power already 18 years. No opposition for a long time has interfered with its leadership of the state. There is no law the executive power would like that it can’t get through parliament. And it is difficult to imagine a situation in which the judiciary would get in its way,” the editors continue.
As a result, the powers that be “have all the instruments for running the country in their hands” and it should not have come as “a surprise to them that even the citizens consider the power that be responsible for everything that occurs,” the independent Moscow newspaper continues.
Those in power act as if there is never a suitable time to raise uncomfortable to them questions. But if issues of life and death aren’t a suitable occasion, then “when is there going to be one” – especially as the authorities constantly elevate security over human rights and freedoms and broaden the powers of the special services and the police?
Only a system seriously out of whack is afraid of expressions of anger on occasions like these, Nezavisimaya gazeta says; and such a system however much it advertises itself as stable is in fact anything but.