Staunton, April 17 – Vladimir Putin has won support for his foreign policy successes because he has made Russians feel better about themselves, but he will not retain that support by foreign policy alone, Yevgeny Gontmakher says, and must instead address the aspirations of the Russian people for social justice.
Most Russians believe “that the authorities are doing everything possible to rob the population,” the Moscow economist says; and “no one except a narrow clutch of the wealthiest is satisfied with differences in pay and family incomes” (mk.ru/social/2018/04/16/v-rossii-zabyli-pro-spravedlivost-kakie-pretenzii-predyavlyaet-naselenie-gosudarstvu.html).
Russians voted for Putin because unlike the Russian government, he embodies for them “the hope for another kind of state,” one that is supportive of the population. “And it is from this that there is a precise division in public thinking between the figure of the president and the bureaucracy according to the principle of ‘the good tsar and the bad boyars.’”
“This means,” Gontmakher says, “that the result Vladimir Putin obtained in the elections is not so much a recognition of his services but rather a very powerful advance given to him for the future by the majority of the electorate. Therefore, over the next six years he must devote himself to the restoration” of the popular sense that social justice has been restored.”
Neither “primitive populism” nor foreign policies “of whatever kind” will achieve that, the Moscow economist says.