Staunton, April 24 – “Officially,” Vadim Shtepa writes, “the Kremlin does not profess any ‘state ideology,’ but in fact, it brings together the Soviet and Nazi heritage,” with “nostalgia for the USSR combined with a revanchist worldview, characteristic of the Third Reich in the 1930s.”
In an article for Tallinn’s International Centre for Defense and Security, the editor of the After Empire portal says, “the current propaganda meme of ‘the wild 1990s’ is a direct analogy to ‘the Weimar Republic, to which an irreplaceable ‘national leader’ came and ‘raised the country from its knees” (icds.ee/ru/blog/article/ehkstremizm-kak-gosudarstvennaja-ideologija-rossii/).
While claiming that it has no ideology, the Putin regime has used its various anti-extremism laws to go after anyone who does not hew to the Kremlin’s line or dares to criticize it, Shtepa says. As a result, “no ‘rightists’ or ‘leftists as independent political forces exist in today’s Russia.”
“For all who seek to get involved in politics, there is only one single criteria,” he continues, “loyalty to the authorities. If you have that, you can speak out as you please and no court will consider what you say as a violation of the law. But if you criticize the authorities,, it is easy to call you ‘an extremist,’” punish you and push you out of public life.
According to Shtepa, “propaganda as the main instrument of hybrid war is directed not only at ‘the foreign opponent; its main victim is the population of the aggressor country” whose views the powers that be have transformed from political positions to “a simulacrum of ‘the will of the people’” which the authorities then carry out.
That technique, he continues, “has been successfully applied throughout all the Putin years. First, there occurs a massive propagandistic imposition of neo-imperial attitudes and then the authorities justify their political steps by this ‘will of the people.’” That happened with Crimea and the Donbass, and it continues with anti-Western attitudes.
“From a superficial point of view, this looks even democratic,” the Russian regionalist who now lives in exile in Estonia says, as long as one ignores the fact that “all basic principles of democracy have been destroyed in Russia. Free elections of mayors and governors don’t exist, real competition of political forces has been eliminated,” and a power vertical put up instead.
This system’s chief characteristics, Shtepa continues, “are the ignoring of the interests of society, the rise of all-possible prohibitions, and an inclination to use force methods to resolve problems.”
“Paradoxically,” he says, “the Russian authorities themselves both within the country and in international affairs have established themselves as the very image of ‘the extremist’ with which they as it were are struggling.” (Emphasis supplied.)