Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Putin Said Responding to Regional Anger in Ways Exactly Opposite Those Yeltsin Used Effectively

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 20 – The telegram channel SerpomPo says that people in Russia’s regions are becoming ever angrier at the center as their lives become worse and increasingly adopting the slogan “Stop Feeing Moscow.” But in response, Vladimir Putin is doing exactly the reverse of what Boris Yeltsin did to combat such incipient separatism.

            “In the 1990s, when Russia was on the brink of disintegration, Yeltsin’s ‘take as much sovereignty as you want,’ whether anyone likes this or not, saved” the situation and the country. Now, in contrast, SerpomPo says, Putin has adopted the opposite tact: “We will leave you as much sovereignty as we want” (reposted at charter97.org/ru/news/2018/11/20/313473/).

            “In the fat first years of the 21st century, this worked,” the channel continues. “but judging from the obtuseness with which the Kremlin is dealing with the regions, no one [at the center] intends to change course,” even though the reverse worked before and the current course seems designed only to make the situation worse.

            Such conclusions are not unique to this telegram channel. Valery Solovey, the MGIMO political analyst and commentator, draws much the same conclusion on the basis of letters and other communications he is receiving from friends beyond the ring road of Moscow (dialog.ua/russia/165135_1542653185).

Repression typically works if there is enough of it, but if Moscow assumes it can take and take without increasing how much repression it is prepared or even able to apply, then it may discover as does anyone who throws water on a grease fire that such actions are more likely to spread the conflagration than to put it out.             

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