Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Brezhnev-Era Origins of Putin Elite Root of Russia’s Misfortunes, Krasheninnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – “The true root” of Russia’s misfortunes now, Fyodor Krasheninnikov says, is that Vladimir Putin and his entourage were formed as personalities in the Brezhnev era,” frightened by the excesses of democracy in the 1990s, and have been able since then to exclude from politics “all sincere and ideologically committed people.”

            Because of their success in shutting down social lifts, the Yekaterinburg political analyst says, Russia is now ruled by “the very same people who at the end of the 1970s portrayed themselves as convinced communists, in the 1980s as supporters of perestroika and new thinking, in the mid-1990s as ‘experienced businessmen,’ and then as preservers of ‘everything good that was in the USSR” (

            But because of this constant change in public position, these people in fact have come to believe in “nothing besides power and money,” Krasheninnikov says.  “They do not believe in sincerity or conviction or in volunteers or in honest elections. They live with the conviction that people go to meetings only if they are collected in buses or mobilized at work” and are paid.

            They assume that people get involved in politics “only from selfishness because it never comes into their heads the stupid though that some enter politics for the public good and sacrifice their personal wealth and take risks for their convictions. They in general never took risks about anything” – and they assume everyone else is just like them.

            “Worst of all,” the analyst continues, their experiences of politics in Russia in the 1990s has led them to form a false picture of the way the world is organized not only within Russia’s borders but abroad. “Everywhere,” they assume, “politics is exactly the same: no one anywhere believes in anything [and] all elections are lies.”

            According to Krasheninnikov, “the cynicism and unprincipledness of the late Soviet elite are what has transformed democracy in Russia into a pathetic farce.”  Until those formed in the Soviet period leave the scene, this situation will continue and Russia’s prospects for the future will remain bleak.

            “The main less from all this,” he says, is that “one should never entrust the construction of a new system to those were educated in the old one, who not simply passed through the school of state cynicism and hypocrisy but even became successes in it: these are the most horrific people of all.”

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