Five Things have Changed in Russia in Last Year and Five have Not, Kalachev Says
January 8 – In a wide-ranging, 5,000-word interview in Kazan’s Business-Gazeta,
Moscoc commentator Konstantin Kalachev says that over the last year, five
significant things have changed in Russia, but five equally significant ones
have not, a pattern likely to continue in 2019 and make the situation worse (business-gazeta.ru/article/408753).
five things he says have changed include:
growing sense among all Russians that the old model of the system based on
confrontation with the West and of Russia as a besieged fortress has exhausted
itself without a new model having been put in place or even thought up.
feel that the views them with hostility, that there is among powerful a sense
of “we” versus “they” – and ordinary Russians feel they are very much the
Russians, Putin is no longer a “sacred” figure and the notion that he is a good
tsar surrounded by bad boyars is not believed.
have come to believe that elections matter and can change the situation, something
few believed in in the past.
had hoped that Putin could refocus from foreign policy his passion to domestic
issues affecting them but no longer believe he can.
The five things Kalachev
says have NOT changed include:
Putin elite distrusts the population just as much as it ever did.
opposition continues to suffer because it denies that Putin has done anything
positive. “For them, he is evil.” But the majority of the population does not accept
that view given that they have voted for him and that he has brought them
benefits in the past.
distance from protest attitudes to protest actions remains “enormous” and “when
people say they are ready to protest, that doesn’t mean that tomorrow they will
go out into the square.”
to regional amalgamation remains as strong as ever, something Putin has effectively
acknowledged by saying that it will only happen if it is approved by referendum
in each case.
remains “the chief moral authority and holder of all the threads of real administration.”
pattern, Kalachev says, it is possible Putin will leave office before 2024 but “he
will maintain control over the country.”As for what will come in the next 12 months, he continues, “pessimists
say that it cannot get worse, but optimists say they can. I am an optimist,”
the Moscow analyst says.