Staunton, January 21 – Vladimir Pastukhov, a London-based Russian historian, says he has “an erotic-political dream” in which Nastya Rybka the self-described “sex trainer” just returned from Thailand, runs against Vladimir Putin for the presidency of the Union State of Russia and Belarus as “a candidate from the united democratic opposition.
Quite unexpectedly, Pastukhov says, Nastya whose real name is Anastasiya Vashukevich then becomes a hero for much of the human rights and opposition communities much as Pussy Riot did and for the same reason: her treatment by the authorities and her call for better treatment of prisoners win her support ( ).
“In a certain sense,” he continues, “Rybka is unique: each of her words besides everything else becomes a provocation and an unmasking” of Deripaska and the authorities standing behind him. Her accusations may look worse than others, but they have had the ability to attract more attention.
And her case and Deripaska’s successful demand that the Kremlin come down on her show that the power vertical isn’t nearly as vertical or powerful as many assume. Indeed, Pastukhov says, “it suddenly becomes clear that the power ‘vertical’ isn’t a vertical at all,” but rather a confused structure that supposedly lower level people are able to use for their goals.
That in turn means, Pastukhov says, that what has occurred in Russia is “simply one dependency has been replaced by another.” The Kremlin is constantly besieged by those who demand it act for them to put down any challenges to them even if those people do not pose any challenge to Putin.
As a result, “the powers that be turn out to be drawn into an infinite number of ‘alien’ to themselves things” and the victims of this struggle become people who never had any interest in confrontation with the Kremlin but instead remained far from politics if not from people involved in politics.
Such people constitute “a new opposition in which hardly all the figures are a tragicomic as the unhappy ‘huntress of oligarchs,’” but they represent “a much greater danger for the authorities than the traditional ideas-based opposition.” That is because the basis for their growth is radically different.
Such an opposition’s rise “does not depend on anything except the stupidity and irrationality of the behavior of the powers that be themselves;” but given those the people on the top feel they have to cater to, it is “practically inevitable” that the growth of opposition on this basis will grow “exponentially.”
“It is impossible to destroy this opposition ideologically, since it has no ideology besides taking pleasure in revealing the stupidity of the powers that be. “Saving the rank Deripaska,” Pastukhov continues, “the Kremlin is losing the support of the division of prostitutes; and it is unknown which of these two forces is the greater value for the powers.”
What is happening, the Russian historian says, is that the powers that be are getting old, inflexible, unimaginative and thus easily exploited. Someone in the regime might be expected to still be clever enough to recognize that going after such minor figures only because a major one wants it is a fool’s errand.
But one must admit,” Pastukhov concludes, that “there have been few such heroes in the pantheon of Russian history.” And consequently, his dream of Nastya running against Vladimir and even having a chance to win may not be as farfetched as an initial glance might suggest.