Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Putin Regime Cutting Itself Off from Reality at Home and Abroad, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 2 – Just as it has sought to portray Russia as a besieged fortress surrounded by enemies, so too the Putin regime has cut itself off from the world and even its own people, a strategy that means its answers to challenges from both are becoming ever more absurd, according to Sergey Shelin.

            The Rosbalt commentator says that having “barricaded themselves from life, many representatives of the Russian authorities today truly do not understand that in addition to their alternative world, there is a real one” and are responding to their own imagined reality rather than to it (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/03/30/1692942.html).

                People like Senator Elena Mizulina with her comments about how the Kemerovo fire was “a knife in the back of Putin” and then-governor Aman Tuleyev about how outside agitators were responsible for the protests are not so much seeking personal advantage but simply reflecting the isolation and ignorance of those in the elite around them, Shelin continues.

            The less the members of the elite know about the world beyond their own, the more ridiculous and absurd their actions become both at home and abroad, he says.  Russian diplomacy acts as if tit-for-tat responses are appropriate in a world that is far from balanced between two systems.

            “Thirty countries ‘out of false solidarity’ introduce diplomatic sanctions” against Russia, the Rosbalt commentator says. “The principle of balance of forces and influence require that another 30 countries be found who out of true solidarity would introduce the same sanctions against the US and Britain. Well, perhaps not 30, but at least two or three.”

            But not one, not Belarus, not Kazakhstan and not China have; and consequently, there is no basis for talking about an equivalent response.  The same is true about defense spending: The US boosts its military budget by 80 billion US dollars in one year, an amount equal to all Russia will spend in total – and the Putin elite and its friends speak of balance.

            The Russian elite is equally cut off from and in ignorance of its own people.  It satisfies itself with a manipulated election result and with polls show that 70 percent of Russians approve whatever the Kremlin does.  But to do so is delusional, as becomes obvious if one asks only two questions.

            On the one hand, when Russians are asked what areas Putin has devoted insufficient attention to, they respond the struggle with poverty and raising pensions, with “only two percent” saying that he doesn’t pay enough attention to the army and weaponry.

            And on the other, when they are asked what areas the Kremlin leader devotes too much attention, 46 percent point to the army and weaponry. The economy which ranks second in this list garners only eight percent.

            “The people of course in words approves the bosses just as it approved them in Soviet times. But when they consider specific things, they focus” as their les do not “on measures leading to an improvement of their lives rather than on an arms race,” Shelin continues.

            Those on top in Putin’s system are so isolated from reality that they do not understand that measuring their popularity on the basis of an election or a poll on general support is equivalent to “coming up with ratings of the general secretaries on the basis of the unchanging results of Soviet elections.”

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