In a country with thousands of little Putins, Pastukhov continues, one cannot expect anything other than a continuing display of “uncontrolled force” by people who feel they are entitled to act as those above them act. That is the only way such a system can “function,” although its very manner of operation condemns itself to ultimate disaster.
“From an investigator who is required to fulfill illegal orders of the supreme power in the name of supposedly higher state interests, it is impossible to demand that in all other cases, he strictly observe the law,” the historian says. That won’t happen: the investigator and others like him will act as those above them act without regard to any interest higher than their own.
This “hellish” turn of events, he continues, “can be stopped only by the introduction of limitations on all – from Putin to all the little Putins.” Otherwise, those below will insist on having that power as long as those above them continue to assume they can act without any regard to the law.
Still worse, this “political arbitrariness will lead inevitably to the growth of ordinary crime as well,” to a reduce back to the 1990s out of which Putin’s “power vertical” was supposed to lead the country. But the very idea of a power vertical is “deeply defective and mistaken,” Pastukhov says.
“It is an evolutionary dead end out of which Russian society will never be able to escape” unless the idea of such an arrangement is dispensed with and rule of law is introduced. Changing officials will never be enough although many need to be changed, Pastukhov concludes. Changing the concept itself is what is required.