Staunton, July 21 – Six years ago, the Kremlin feared mass protests and so allowed for competitive elections in local Moscow elections, Kirill Martynov says. Now, it fears competitive elections because of its concerns about organizing the transition and so doesn’t fear the mass protests which have come as a response.
The Novaya gazeta commentator argues that this change of heart has happened because after 2024, Vladimir Putin cannot remain president without a change in the Constitution but that he will retain real power one way or another to ensure that the current distribution of rents stays the same (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/07/21/81324-tranzitnaya-situatsiya).
Even the carefully choreographed transition to Medvedev “showed that any reconfiguration of the top positions in the country leads to a significant change in the positions of the influence groups within the elites,” with some gaining and others losing as a result, Martynov says.
Were there to be independent deputies in the Moscow city council or a governor from the opposition, such people could serve as “a trump card” for those within the Russian elite “who are ready for dialogue with society.” Others within that circle who aren’t ready for such conversations naturally are against the appearance of such people.
And the latter thus protect themselves from any such risk of the transition as well as protecting their current powers by ensuring that no such opposition figures appear within the political firmament by the simple but clearly unpopular strategy of blocking them from running altogether.
Mass protests in contrast cause the elite to unite against them because all of its members are threatened by them, and such street actions are less of a threat because the regime has prepared what it needs to control or even suppress them outright. Hence the fear of competitive elections but not of people in the streets.