Staunton, March 30 – Support for the Putin regime is declining and protest attitudes are spreading and intensifying in the regions but gradually moving toward the center of power in the Kremlin, Yuliya Orlova says, the result of the failure of those in power to address the country’s problems or even show they are concerned about them.
This trend, which the Svobodnaya pressa commentator calls “the Grudinin effect” after the KPRF presidential candidate who won 11 percent of the vote against Vladimir Putin. Despite his loss, Grudilin at least showed that he cared about people and as a result has become both a hero and role model for others (svpressa.ru/society/article/228866/).
Orlova cites numerous occasions since the presidential elections in which people in the regions east of the Urals in particular have voted for opposition candidates because these people showed by their statements that they cared about what happens to the population while the Kremlin and its United Russia Party did not.
Unfortunately, she continues, given the way the Russian state is organized, these opposition victories may not lead to changes anytime soon. In fact, Moscow undoubtedly will do what it can to undermine those of its opponents who have won. But the Russian people can see that too – and they will remember at each succeeding election.
Some who’ve won by declaring they care may fail for other reasons. Many lack serious experience, and they will make mistakes, Orlova says. But they are getting at least one thing right that the Kremlin is getting wrong: they care and want change, and it doesn’t care and doesn’t want anything to change either.
Increasingly as a result, Russians “are voting according to the principle – for anyone except ‘those’” connected with the powers that be. Grudinin may not be that great either, but at least he isn’t with those in power – and that makes him a hero for ever more people and a role model for ever more politicians.
If the Kremlin doesn’t change course and if its opponents continue to show that they really care and want to help people, Orlova says, the opposition candidate in 2024 will receive far more than 11 percent of the vote, winning enough to put the regime on the defensive even if he or she can’t defeat Putin.
And if that happens, the commentator says, the Kremlin will have no one to blame for its loss of position but itself.