Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Moscow Protest had the Three Necessary Features of a Revolutionary Situation, Khots Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 28 – For a revolutionary situation to occur, Aleksandr Khots says, three conditions must be met: relations between the authorities and the population must have deteriorated to the breaking point, popular anger must be exacerbated by cynical actions of the powers that be, and the people must go into the streets having lost their fear of the authorities.

            All three of these necessary but obviously not yet sufficient characteristics were true in Moscow yesterday, the Russian commentator says, adding that the loss of fear among the population will prove “contagious” and this will in time be a mortal blow to the regime (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5D3DE8C9D1466).

            Many observers said that this loss of fear is “bad news for the city government,” but, Khots suggests, it is so “not only for it but also for the regime as a whole.” Russians no longer fear standing up to the police and the police in turn seem incapable of localizing protests or intimidating more people from joining them.   

            Moreover, the ongoing radicalization of “’systemic’ politicians and their alliance with ‘the irreconcilables,’ a union that may become long-lasting” is also a threat to the stability the regime promises and seeks. These are major changes from the situation in 2011-2012 when targeted attacks on the opposition put it back in the box.

            Now, the actions of the authorities are adding to anger rather to fear; and that means that when the people have the chance to go to a meeting that has been approved by the authorities as this Saturday, “there will be more than 22,500.” That in turn will ensure that at the next unapproved meetings there will be more as well.

            People are so generally angry, Khots continues, that almost anything can become the cause for protest as the Golunov case showed.  And this anger is not limited to Moscow but extends to many parts of the country, most prominently in Yekaterinburg and Arkhangelsk.

            At present, there is a kind of floating balance between an angry society and the capacity of the regime to suppress it, he says. Almost anything could lead this situation to become unbalanced. Full-blown repression is unlikely: the regime doesn’t have the resources.  But targeted repression  no longer works.

            The situation in 2019 is very different than the one in 2012, Khots argues.  “The systemic social crisis, plus the vaunted ‘transit’ of the decrepit leader is creating a new reality in Russia,” one that may produce a revolt, not pitiless as many fear but just and even well-thought out.  If so, that is the basis for optimism.

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