Staunton, August 25 – The most important story of the weekend, Ivan Rodin of Nezavisimaya gazeta says, is that Vladimir Putin has repeated the same hard line against protests he took in 2011 and that instead of challenging him, the extra-systemic opposition has backed down and retreated into the fratricide for which it has become known.
The head of the politics section of the independent Moscow newspaper says that those who thought the Kremlin leader was signaling a softer line by speaking about the need for everyone to obey the law were wrong and that in fact, he is maintaining the same hard line against “disorders” he took eight years ago (ng.ru/week/2019-08-25/7_7658_politicsweek.html).
That has been shown to anyone who doubts that the Kremlin intends to continue its hard line by the announcement that the authorities would pursue criminal charges against some protesters and not give permission for a new demonstration on August 31. Instead of going ahead anyway, the opposition quickly fell into two traps it has often landed in in the past.
On the one hand, some want to go to court to challenge the decision, an action that works for the authorities not only because it allows them to pose as defenders of the law when in fact they control the courts but also because no decision will be handed down until after the date passes, thus giving the powers that be a double victory.
And on the other hand, the opposition has begun to engage in the fratricide for which it is so infamous, Rodin continues. Aleksey Navalny “by tradition” was the first to make a move in this direction, proposing that the opposition vote for any candidate who had a chance to defeat pro-government nominees.
Many in the opposition would be prepared to do this, but not if it made them appear to be following Navalny, the Nezavisimaya gazeta journalist says. Instead, they attacked him and his basically reasonable suggestion in ways that further limit their own influence and thus give Putin yet another victory.