Staunton, August 9 – The chief result of Vladimir Putin’s 20 years in power has been the institutionalization of imitation democracy and an imitation state of law, but such imitations, however much stronger than those offered by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction, a process that now is very much on public view.
In a Kasparov commentator, the senior Moscow commentator says that Russians are no longer willing to live with imitations: they want the real thing and have voted against the Kremlin’s candidates in elections and want the Kremlin and all Russian officials to obey the laws they claim to be defenders of (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5D4D9C5491E37).
The authorities now see that “even within the limits of their own illegal legality, they cannot deprive undesirable (from their point of view) candidates and have been forced to go beyond these limits into illegality.” And they have discovered that there are in Moscow at least “not a few people who are prepared to demand that the authorities obey what they say the law is.
In this situation, the powers that be have responded with force and repressions, acting not as defenders of imitation democracy and imitation rule of law but by accusing their political opponents of being “agents of hostile foreign forces and enemies of the state” in the hope that this will make the authorities’ actions seem “routine” and within the law as they understand it.
But that subverts the approach they have adopted in the past and raises the serious question of just how long such imitations can exist in Russia. At present, they appear to be dying in the minds of Russians and on the streets of Russian cities. That creates a new and potentially more explosive situation than anyone thought possible only a few months ago.