Staunton, July 30 – The foundations of the Putin Regime – managed democracy, effective propaganda, foreign policy successes, and fear in the population of repression – are crumbling “one after another,” Sergey Shelin says, leaving only two props in place: the personalist dictatorship backed by force and the apathy of the masses afraid of any change.
The regime thinks it can compensate by increasing repression, the Rosbalt commentator continues. That may be true but only if it increases it by an enormous amount given that for an increasing number of people, especially among the young, being subject to repressive actions by the authorities has become a way of proving oneself (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2019/07/30/1794795.html).
Moreover, the Kremlin can’t increase by much money going to the population as a result of stagnation without redirecting it away from those who are its primary supporters, the wealthy industrialists and officials Putin has counted on to back him because he is making them rich and protecting their ill-gotten gains from attack.
And Putin has discovered that there can be only one Crimea. “Organizing it in the Belarusian case, for example, is complicated and by many signs does not promise any special popular delight.” Moreover, smaller dustups with the neighbors as for example with Georgia are viewed as intentional distractions from Russia’s domestic problems rather than a source of pride.
As a result, Shelin says, “the reserve of suitable positive signals for the people has run out, not only objectively but subjectively.” The Kremlin simply has nothing to say to the people, and the people can see that that is the case. What remains is only “the inertia of personal power and the apathy of the masses,” but “almost no one considers our regime just.”
As polls show, Putin is increasingly disliked and distrusted. His only salvation is that up to now, those around him are even more disliked and distrusted, a situation that may continue for some time but not forever. That is something both Putin and the people now understand, and it will define developments in the coming weeks and months.