Staunton, September 20 – The unrest in Buryatia, which are but the latest example of the impact of Moscow’s use of officials who don’t know how to work with the population and can come up only with inadequate proposals, shows Putin’s people are rapidly losing control over the country and that, as in 1991, “the walls of the Kremlin won’t save them, Yuliya Orlova says.
In extraordinarily harsh language, the Svobodnaya pressa commentator says that “already, the people do not believe the promises of the powers that be and the latter are maintaining itself only by repressions and falsifications,” tactics that are rapidly wearing thing (svpressa.ru/society/article/244238/).
What is most worrisome, Orlova continues, is that when a problem arises, the Kremlin’s representatives don’t address it but make frequently “absurd” and irrelevant proposals. When there were problems in the Russian Far East, they moved the capital of the relevant federal district from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok.
That precedent suggests, she argues, that now Moscow’s people in Buryatia may rename Ulan-Ude, the capital of that Buddhist republic, Ulan-Bator, the capital of Mongolia! That is clear evidence that “the system of the vertical, built a couple of decades ago, is breaking about before our eyes,” and there is no high rating of the president to compensate.
Instead, the powers that be are throwing out clearly ridiculous and poorly thought out ideas, like a four-day week with no reduction of wages and salaries, just as bad as the earlier renaming the militia as the police and shifting the dates of summer and winter time while doing nothing to address real problems.
Medical care is in a horrific state, the educational system is in collapse, the population is becoming poorer with deaths rising and births falling, pensions are too low for people to live on, productivity is declining, industrial plants are closing, and any growth is less than the margin of error, Orlova says. These things are what Moscow should be talking about but isn’t.
And the regime’s problems with the population are compounded by the fact that banks are making record profits and the incomes of those at the top are rising to new records. That is not a description of a country that is well-managed. It is rather a portrait of one in which “the situation could go out of control.”
Only one thing is lacking, according to Orlova, “an attractive opposition leader who can tell people what they expect.” If he appears, he will be able to walk into the Kremlin and take the power which the incumbents are losing in the eyes of the entire population. That’s what Boris Yeltsin did in 1991 – and it could happen again soon.
Some Russians are so desperate for such a leader to appear that they aren’t waiting: they’ve turned to the shaman from Sakha hoping he can do the job. Aleksandr Gabyshev probably isn’t up to that, but the fact that many think he could is the harshest indictment of the Putin system it has ever received (cf. windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/09/shaman-story-overwhelms-russian-media.html).
Orlova says she has recently reread Vyacheslav Shchepootkin’s 2013 novel, The Owl’s Cry at the End of the Season about how and why the Soviet system came apart (for its text, see e-reading.club/book.php?book=1029366). Once that process starts, she says, “the walls of the Kremlin” won’t save its incumbents, as their children already know by choosing to live abroad.