Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Putin’s Preferred Methods of Rule No Longer Working as Intended, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 21 – Every move the Kremlin makes on the political field today shows that ‘the mechanisms of administration which have been in place for two decades have exhausted themselves and that the Kremlin has not been able to put in place a new model of rule,” Liliya Shevtsova says.

            As a result, the Russian commentator says, the Putin regime is “stuck” in an increasingly untenable situation, unable to avoid taking steps designed to save itself but that in fact end, boomerang fashion, undermining the regime and its leader (echo.msk.ru/blog/shevtsova/2505511-echo/).

                Shevtsova points out that the system of elections “with results guaranteed results” no longer legitimizes the system but sparks protests, United Russia no longer functions as an effective party of power but alienates almost everyone, the trappings of democracy are no longer convincing, and a foreign policy intended to unite Russians increasingly is dividing them. 

            In this situation, she says, the power vertical is shaking, and the regime increasingly views repression as the only possible instrument it has to control the situation. But the reverse is the case: Russia’s siloviki “are not able to work selectively and according to the rules because there are no rules.”

            And thus ever more people, including those within the regime, feel that they may be at risk of falling under this rapidly moving wheel.  The authorities are trying to involve some of these people to suggest that there are “red lines” that the regime won’t cross and thus dispel these fears and divide the opposition, but so far, that hasn’t worked, Shevtsova says.

             More Golunov and Ustinov cases are thus likely, especially because “any retreat of the authorities and the freeing of victims from the clutches of ‘justice’ and even more the punishment of enforcement personnel for unjustified ‘severity’ is dangerous for the political regime.” They are loyal largely because up to now they are untouchable.

            “A systemic trap has arisen,” Shevtsova says. On the one hand, more repression risks spreading anger among elites and even more producing “a boomerang effect” among the broader population. And on the other, the authorities can’t stop using force lest it that appear to be a manifestation of weakness.

            “In short,” the commentator concludes, “the system is stuck. And no world experience can show us how to come out of this situation as a world power which has lost its bearings and is losing its ability to govern itself.”

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