Staunton, January 20 – Something remarkable has occurred in the time since Magnitogorsk: Kremlin media are now reporting on other lesser technogenic disasters earlier left entirely to local outlets, and at the same time, the government-controlled media in the capital are reporting more often about public unhappiness concerning these infrastructure problems.
But according to the Forbidden Opinion Telegram Channel, this is not a sign of a turn to greater media freedom but rather of something else: By reporting on many technogenic problems, the Kremlin hopes to prevent Russians from concluding that any of them were the work of terrorists (charter97.org/ru/news/2019/1/20/320586/).
If there are numerous reports about gas explosions, the Telegram Channel suggests official thinking goes, Russians will increasingly assume that there is no basis for suspicions that any of the disasters were caused by terrorism, a judgment that the Kremlin fears would be transformed into a finding against the powers that be.
“Putin fears terrorist acts to the point of panic,” the Chanel continues: they come to him in nightmares together with dreams about a Russian Maidan and the murder of Qaddafi beause a terrorist act puts paid all ‘the achievements’ of the country under his leadership regarding the struggle with terrorism” abroad and at home.
The Kremlin leader is even more worried about the possibility Russians will conclude that some disaster is the result of terrorism now that his ratings have fallen so fast and so far. If many Russians came to believe that this or that disaster was the result of a terrorist attack, that could in his mind be “the last straw” as far as his support within the population is concerned.
This suggests that Putin and his aides have concluded that the situation in the country is far more dire than many assume and that they could be in serious political trouble that could lead to radical change in the near future, the Forbidden Opinion Telegram Channel suggests. Otherwise they wouldn’t take the risk of such additional reporting of “bad” news.
But there is another risk of more reporting of bad news, and it is this: once Russians become accustomed to reading about collapsing apartments and falling bridges, they may begin to connect the dots and recognize that it isn’t terrorists who are the biggest threat to their way of life but rather the men in the Kremlin who are trying to manage the news.
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