Tuesday, October 24, 2017

‘Rejection of Revolution Not a Mandate for Stagnation,’ Nezavisimaya Gazeta Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 24 – Vladimir Putin twice last week spoke of evolution as “a positive alternative to revolution,” the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say; but in fact, he has taken the rejection of revolution as an alternative to be de facto a mandate for stagnation in Russia rather than a call for gradual change.

            Putin’s speech to the Valdai Conference was promoted in advance as something that would contain “very important and interesting” things, the editors say; but his “words about revolution and evolution are possibly the only significant message addressed to the audience inside the country” (ng.ru/editorial/2017-10-24/2_7101_red.html).

            The Russian authorities, the paper continues, are worried about “two revolutions” – a technological one which Putin ever more frequently says Russia must prepare for and adapt to, and an “orange” one that the powers that be are doing everything they can to suppress by repressing various groups in the population. 

            The Kremlin doesn’t assert that the dissatisfaction many Russians feel is baseless; it only insists that the mobilization of that dissatisfaction is the work of “’enemies of Russia’ and is being used by them to destabilize the situation in the country,” the editors of the independent Moscow daily say.

            If one starts with those assumptions, they continue, “Putin’s message sounds approximately like this: it isn’t necessary to repeat the mistakes of the past, that is, of 1917. Instead of a revolutionary, that is a radical, change of the powers that be, what is needed is constructive dialogue.

            The authorities are listening, Putin suggested, and “they will gradually solve” all the problems. The current regime may not be “ideal or correspond” to democratic norms but give those in power time and the society the chance to grow up and mature, and everything will work out. 

            Nezavisimaya gazeta acknowledges that “many reforms in Russia have really been achieved from above. But this hardly means that those who dissatisfied with the authorities will find the president’s message convincing,” given that many of them want not specific outcomes but rights, freedoms and the genuine functioning of the Russian Constitution.

            Such people, the editors continues, want the authorities to respect and implement those rights and they won’t see the authorities’ call for putting things off and allowing the government to solve everything as a solution. Rather the reverse.  They want to be subjects of political life and not just objects of the politics of others.

             Unfortunately, the editors conclude, “the governmental, political and institutional system in Russia is in a state when its transformation almost completely depends on the will of the ruling elite. But the longer it rules, the fewer will remain the stimuli directing this will and the more the promised evolution will resemble stagnation.” 

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