Like His ‘Hybrid Wars,’ Putin’s ‘Hybrid Repressions’ are All Too Real, Tuomi Says
January 16 – Some in Russia and in the West appear to think that if one inserts
the world “hybrid” in front of any crime, it becomes less serious and more
acceptable. But just as Vladimir Putin’s “hybrid wars” abroad remain real wars
regardless of the adjective, so too his “hybrid repressions” at home are all
too real as well, Andrey Tuomi says.
up on Mark Twain’s remark that “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often
rhymes,” the Karelian commentator argues that Stalinist mass repressions aren’t
returning to Rusisa but that is only because the current powers that be don’t
need them now given the state of the population (afterempire.info/2017/01/16/repressions/).
bloody repressions in [Russia] had to be applied only once in order for the
people of Rusisa to become absolutely governable for an entire century,” Tuomi
continues. The rest of the time, the powers that be only had to “’rhyme history’
thereby threatening people with repressions so that the country would become
docile, uncomplaining and compliant.”
doesn’t mean that the Putin regime isn’t repressing the population just as
Stalin did, only that it is using the media and the memories of the population
to achieve its goals, boosted occasionally by targeted attacks against and even
murders of its opponents to re-inject the fears it relies upon.
“rhymed” this way under Khrushchev and Brezhnev, “when it turned out to be
sufficient to punish the people of the sixties and the dissidents so that the
rest of ‘the gray masses’ would correctly read the signals” the Kremlin wanted
them to.The latter could have done even
more, but they didn’t have any need. Neither does Putin.
Putin regime,” he continues, “hasn’t been able to think up anything new,”
however often the word “hybrid” is applied.Perhaps the only difference is the skill with which the Kremlin dictator
has used information resources to keep fear alive and thus to keep himself in
only thing the regime can produce are new enemies lists, given that Russia’s
economy is in free fall and things are so bad that soon the Kremlin may have to
begin “mass amnesties” of prisoners because those it can no longer afford to
feed those it is keeping in its jails and camps. Of course, any such release
will be celebrated by the regime’s supporters.
given that reality, “there can’t be any talk about “mass repressions” of the
Stalinist kind. The Putin regime simply can’t afford them.“Psychological repressions,” however, are another
matter; and together with the occasion physical kind, they are in full flower
in Russia today.
Russia today,” Tuomi says, “an unusually effective, and what is most important
quite cheap mechanism of massive psychological repressions has been created,”
again something the addition of the word “hybrid’ makes no less real and
mechanism, Tuomi says, has two main functions: “to sow confusion and fear of
punishment among the rear population of the empire” and like Stalin’s SMERSH,
to point to the existence “in its ranks of ‘spies, provocateurs, and panic
mongers’” who are ready to sell out Russia to the West.
all Russians have fallen victim to this, of course, and against them, the
powers that be are prepared to use the powers of the state as well as the
powers of the media to destroy or force them into emigration or silence.And if that isn’t enough, they are even ready
to kill them as was the case with Boris Nemtsov.
“murder of course created certain problems for the Russian power elite, but the
dividends it received from this action were incomparably greater.” It showed just
how far the powers that be are in fact prepared to go, gave them new leverage
against clans within the elite, and reinforced the notion that “’all who are
not with us’” can expect a bad end.
would be incorrect to suppose that the hybrid repressive machine operates in exactly
the same way in all regions of the Russian Federation,” Tuomi says. There is a
great range, from the completely repressed situation in Chechnya where
officials use violence regularly to “relatively free Karelia” where the bosses
are forced to use other means.
Karelia, the governor and his team “lacking the possibility of totally
influencing and struggling with the republic media, has adopted a different
approach, one based on expelling from the ranks of the Karelian opposition its
key players and neutralizing or limiting their public activity or significance.”
has slandered some, exiled others, and sought to place the remaining ones in
impossible situations.So far, this has
kept the governor and his team in office, but all too often it has backfired on
them given that greater international attention to what is happening there has
limited Petrozavodsk’s actions.
powers that be have no choice but to engage in such “hybrid repressions”
because their survival depends on Moscow’s continuing to believe that they have
the situation under control. If the center ceases to believe that, those now in
office in Petrozavodsk will be replaced by others.
long will hybrid repressions in Karelia in particular and in the Russian
Federation in general continue” given that “like any other historically rhymed
episode, the current mechanism of psychological repressions sooner or later
will cease to work?”Tuomi asks rhetorically.
it will become “too routine” to be taken seriously or it will “cease to be
capable of dealing with growing dissatisfaction in the population,” the
Karelian writer says.As long as the opposition
can be kept atomized, the regime can continue as it is. But if it faces mass
unrest, then “hybrid repressions” will no longer work.
that increasing popular unhappiness will demonstrate how hollow Putin’s 86
percent approval rating is and that the expression of such unhappiness will be “spontaneous,
massive, and uncontrollable from above,” one can assume that the regime will
strike back and strike back hard, something that will raise the stakes of this
history in Russia “rhymes” not only with repressive periods of the past but
also with what inevitably follows them. “For every Stalin, there is his own 20th
Congress. This is only a question of time, for history is pitiless: it rhymes
not only with terror and dictators; it rhymes and takes revenge over them as