In his view, the Fire Bird of Russian history has appeared at the World Cup and that sets the stage for radical changes, however much many feel that in only a few weeks all the experiences of the international competition will be forgotten and life in Russia will return to more or less what it was before.
This new revolution, Khamalyan says, is a revolution arising out of the most oppressed category of the population, just as all revolutions are, the Russian women who by their actions have challenged the cult of violence and death promoted by Putinist men. And again like all genuine revolutions, they will not and cannot be denied.
This is not the first time that a nominally non-political event has had that impact on Russia, the Armenian analyst says. The International Youth Festival in 1957 broke the back of Stalinism and opened the way to Khrushchev’s “thaw.” The Moscow Olympics in 1980 helped break Brezhnev’s stagnation and opened the way to perestroika.
And more recently in 2014, the Sochi Olympics marked “’the golden age’ of Putinism,” the rule of the siloviki and intelligence officers, repression at home and aggression abroad, the Armenian analyst continues. Now, four years later and 101 years after the revolution, the World Cup competition in Khzmalyan’s view is set to mark another turning point.
Indeed, he says that given the spirit it has elicited, it must be called “the most genuine revolution” and “as in any revolution, its moving force has become the most advanced and at the same time the most oppressed part of society, one filled with civic anger, a feeling of injured dignity, and bright hopes for a better future.”
In Russia today, “women are undoubtedly this part of society.” The World Cup period “became for Russian women the occasion for a real sexual revolution in which they decisively, contemptuously and with a sneer overturned the world of men that had existed around them up to the middle of 2018, a world of the lie, public hypocrisy, and violence on the street and at home.”
The remarkable explosion of socialization between Russian women and foreign fans, something many in the official Russian world complained about, “was in fact a sincere, instinctive, unconscious, but completely open response of Russian women to almost two decades of Putinism.”
“At first glance,” he acknowledges, “this assertion may seem absurd, for it was precisely in the female milieu that the Putin cult of ‘the strong man with the naked torso’ was based.” But if one considers the situation more closely, if one sees that that cult has led Russian men to threaten the whole world to hide their own weakness, the women’s behavior the past month assumes new importance.
Their actions in fact were “more like a call for help … to save them by taking them away from the world in which they have been living if not forever than for the days and nights of this unexpected carnival, Khzmalyan says. And that is why the male Putinists were so outraged because they could feel that all this was addressed against them.
In the past month, a true “velvet revolution” has broken out in Russia, “in which only women took part and the symbol of which became not the clutched fist but the open vagina. If men cannot overthrow force and dictatorship,” the Armenian commentator continues, “then the women will overthrow these men.”
That is what Russian men can’t forgive in Russian women. They can see that Russian women have answered their own actions with the contempt of Lysistrata and run away from Russian men into the arms of foreigners. “This is the response of Russian women to the Russian powers that be:”
“You,” the Russian authorities, “have not been able to provide your women with a worthy live or with love … and respect. Your patriotism is false for it is directed either at the dead past or at the preparation of new wars, that is at beating down the future,“Russian women are saying.
“Women will never be able to take seriously this male cult of death because women are born for life,” Khzmalyan says. And on the 101st anniversary of the October revolution, they have launched their own, “the revolution of Russian women, a sexual revolution” that will put Russian men in an entirely new place.
“The first fruits of this revolution,” the Armenian analyst says, “will appear already next spring.”