Staunton, July 27 – In the streets of Moscow today, Russian civil society won “a large and unexpected victory” when the powers that be attacked them and showed that they have adopted the invariably losing slogan of “let them hate us as long as they fear us,” Yuliya Latynina says.
That has been the slogan of many despots, the Russian commentator points out on her “Access Code” program, and it has never worked for long. Instead, it has led them to take actions like today’s in which the beating of women and children only adds to the number of people who stand against them (echo.msk.ru/programs/code/2471509-echo/).
Vladimir Putin only made matters worse for himself by choosing to go down in a submarine, an action that might have impressed people had there been only a few hundred demonstrators, Latynina says. But his plans backfired on him by providing yet another “absolutely symbolic picture” of his isolation from the population and from reality.
In Moscow there was what almost amounted to an uprising “because very many of those who came understood very well that no agreement was going to be possible because the powers that be were burning the bridges behind them” not yet by shooting at the people but behaving as Nicholas II did at the time of the Khodynka fields disaster.
There is a further problem with the Putin regime, Latynina says. Stalin was incomparably more harsh than the current Kremlin ruler was but he offered the population some ideals. They were “absolutely false, but these ideals mobilized a significant number of people so that they loved Soviet power in a completely sincere way even if this love was reinforced by horror.”
Putin is not yet as repressive but he has nothing of that kind of ideology to offer, she argues. That means that when things are deteriorating as they are, Russians are going to be alienated rather than attracted to the powers that be – and that is exactly what is happening in Moscow now.
Having lost the middle class, the Putin regime is on its way to losing the lumpen who have been supporting it. It is becoming ever more reliant on the siloviki; but how long it can rule on the basis of them alone is an open question. And it has lost forever the young who are the rising generation even as the powers that be grow ever older.
However, what is most immediately on view, Latynina argues, is that Putin has lost a mechanism that had worked to his benefit in the past – elections. However falsified they have been, they did legitimate him and his regime. By adopting the position they have on the Moscow city council vote, “the powers that be have miscalculated.”
Latynina says she has good news and bad news for Russia. The bad news is that the regime has “declared war on the people” not just the opposition but the people as a whole, by making a mockery of elections it can no longer be sure to win and organizing an internal army to fight them.
But the good news is that by doing so, the powers that be are rapidly losing any legitimacy they had – and doing everything necessary to ensure that they will not recover it but have to be replaced completely. “When the powers could win elections, they did. Now we see that they really can’t” – and that leads ever more Russians to draw the obvious conclusions.