Staunton, April 2 – Despite or perhaps because of the April Fools holiday, the last 48 hours have produced a banner crop of insightful Russian commentaries on a wide range of subjects. Seven of these essays seem especially important, and, lest any of them are lost, brief summaries are offered below in the hopes that readers will turn to the fuller and richer originals.
- Nemtsov’s Murder Resembles Mikhoels’ in 1948. Yury Magarshak argues that the murder of Boris Nemtsov in Moscow earlier this year and the murder of Solomon Mikhoels, the Jewish Anti-Fascist leader, in Stalin’s times share much in common both in why they occurred, how they were carried out, how the investigations were structured, and what they ushered in as a result. Indeed, he says, the major difference is that the names of those involved had been changed and definitely not to protect the innocent (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=551C1E1D3DE4E).
- Russia Cannot Revive Its Empire and Prosper. Vladimir Putin’s attempt to restore a Russian empire of whatever kind is doomed to ultimate failure, Elizaveta Pokrovskaya argues, because such a state would throw Russia backwards in a world that is moving forward and recreate many of the same forces which tore the country apart in 1917 and again in 1991. The only reason that he might get some support for a time is “if present-day Russian society” doesn’t believe it has a future and thus seeks escape in the past. But that won’t last in the inter-dependent world that now exists (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=551C2FE37FFA8).
- Is Another Philosophers Ship about to Sail from Russia? In 1922, Vladimir Lenin, recognizing that his ideology could not hope to compete with the ideas of Pitirim Sorokin, Nikolay Lossky, and Nicholas Berdyaev, sent them and more than 100 other leading thinkers of Russia into exile on what came to be known as the Philosophers Ship. Now, another Vladimir, this time Putin, may be thinking about doing the same thing given the suggestion by Boris Mezhuyev in “Izvestiya” that those who oppose Putin and the annexation of Crimea can have no play in Russia’s future, according to Igor Yakovenko (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=551CC354C27C2).
- Putin’s Russia Moving from Left Fascism to Right Fascism. “Over the last 70 years, Russian society has evolved from communism (sovietism) to left fascism (stagnation and Andropov’s rule) and then from left fascism to right fascism,” Yevgeny Ikhlov argues, noting that this evolution has “twice” been interrupted by turns toward democracy. At present, however, there is a real risk of movement toward the especially dangerous right fascism because it will arise when the regime manages to eliminate humanism, democracy and cosmopolitanism (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=551C25E736CE4).
- The Putin Majority is a Myth. Despite the Kremlin’s claims to the contrary, the notion of “a Putin majority” is a myth, one carefully cultivated but that fails to acknowledge the role of repression and fear, the passivity of the population, and the certainty that it would disappear overnight should another leader take power and use television to promote another “majority” in its place, according to Igor Eidman (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=551C1770082FF).
- Could a Brazilian Scenario Prevent a Disaster in Russia? Many Russians are afraid to take steps to replace Vladimir Putin fearing that his ouster in a coup or revolution would only bring something even worse, Tatyana Vorozheykina says. But there is another possibility, a pact between some in the ruling elite and a newly mobilized mass opposition that could pave the way for a transition to something better. But for that to happen, opposition leaders must be prepared for a continuing fight with their counterparts in such a pact rather than self-confidently assuming that once an agreement was reached, it would stick. Brazil provides a model of what might be done, and that country is not as different from Russia as many imagine (slon.ru/posts/49946).
- The West Won’t Stop Putin. According to Mikhail Berg, the West won’t stop Putin not only because it is less concerned with the destruction of Ukraine – it has already swallowed the loss of Crimea and would be prepared to accept even greater losses than the Donbas -- than with the possible collapse of the Russian Federation with its oil, gas and markets but also because the West, which clearly does not understand “with whom it is dealing,” believes that the Kremlin leader’s aggressiveness serves their own interests of re-armament and expanding the Western sphere of influence (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=551BBF0C6CEB8).