Staunton, December 11 – The end of this month will mark the centennial of the murder of Grigory Rasputin, whose influence on the Imperial Family because of his ability to bring relief to the tsarevich had a negative influence on the Russian government and whose murder on December 30, 1916, opened the floodgates to the revolutions of 1917.
In a commentary for Radio Svoboda, Vladimir Golyshev, a Russian dramatist, suggests that were anyone to stage a play about this event now, Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is the only Russian who could play Rasputin and at the same play those like Prince Felix Yusupov who murdered the man known as “the mad monk” (svoboda.org/a/28168305.html).
Rasputin’s murder, the dramatist says, was “the bloody end of an information campaign unprecedented in its scale and destructive consequences aimed at discrediting the monarch. Three months later, its organizers got what they wanted: abdication. And almost they next day, they destroyed all the case files and burned [Rasputin’s] body” to hide what they had done.
Now, because of “’the magic of dates,’” Russians are again thinking about the events of a century ago. “We have already seen war in the hot summer of ’14.” Now, Russians are living in “the cold winter of ’16.” And so today, Russians must “recognize that the only candidat for the role of Grigory Rasputin in contemporary Russia is Vladimir Putin.”
“The chief and defining characteristic of the murdered [monk] was that his human element was completely dissolved in ‘the media phantom’” he became. Thus, “when Elizaveta Fedorovna, the sister of the empress, called [his] murder ‘a patriotic act,’ she obviously had in mind not the Tobolsk peasant who several times saved her relative.”
On the one hand, he continues, Putin too is so covered with glamorous myths that “at times it seems that under them there does not remain anything genuine.” Indeed, talk about his doubles no longer today seems a matter for humor.
But on the other, Golyshev continues, none of those in Putin’s entourage seems an appropriate candidate either for being a new Rasputin or a new Yusupov, not Kadyrov, not Putin’s biker buddy, and “all the rest are a gray mass” not suited for the role.
“In contrast to the last emperor, the second and fourth president of Russia completely controls the information space … 24 hours a day, on all television channels.” But that means as well that Putin has to take the rap for everything himself.” There is no one he can cast into these alternative roles.
As the Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin put it almost a decade ago, “’Putin is everywhere. Putin is everything. Putin is absolute [and] Putin is irreplaceable.” Today for Rusisans, he is “the emperor and ‘Grigory Rasputin’ and ‘Felix Yusupov’ and ‘Anna Vyrubova’ and ‘Manusevich-Manuilov’ and ‘Prince Andronnikov’ and ‘Rubinshtein the banker.’”
“Is ‘our all’ capable of putting on ‘cinematographic show calculated to appeal to the basest taste’?” The answer is obvious: “Of course,” because at present, no one else is available for any of these roles. “And that means,” Golyshev says, “that 2016 could end with some kind of wild farce, so wild that alongside it everything else would fade into the background.”
“What could this be?” the dramatist asks rhetorically. “God alone knows, [but] one way or another there isn’t long to wait.”