Staunton, November 24 – Many are worried that Russia is moving back toward 1937. Such concerns are justified. But right now, with the adoption of the foreign agent law, Andrey Kolesnikov says, the country is making an intermediate stop at the years just after 1945 when Stalin launched his campaign against “rootless cosmopolitans” and “kowtowing to the West.”
The New Times commentator says that given the government’s increasing xenophobia and hostility to foreigners, Russia is now “situated somewhere between 1946 and 1949 and entering a period of uncompromising struggle” with these “evils.” Consequently, the Duma needs to adopt corresponding legislation (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/187872?fcc).
Such a law in addition to all its other virtues will promote the nationalization of the elite, all too many members of which have been infected by “rootless cosmopolitanism” and “kowtowing to the West.” Not only will members of the elite have to give up property abroad and stop sending their children there; they will have to ask about all the products they consume.
Are their cars from abroad? Is the steak they eat imported or the clothes they wear? If they don’t ask these questions and take steps to dispense with these foreign imports, they will stand charged with promoting the spread of Western influence in Russian society, Kolesnikov continues.
If such people study English, they’ll be violating the law. If they go to the Alps to ski, they will as well; although given current relations with President Macron, the fines or days of administrative arrest that they will face will be less if they can show that they were only in the French Alps.
Of course, Kolesnikov continues, there will have to be exceptions made in the law “for groups of comrades going abroad to interfere in the elections of foreign states, promoting the disorganization in the activity of the organs of power of foreign states … and also those carrying dangerous means to be used against former workers of the special services.”
Such measures, he says, will ultimately lead as they did in Stalin’s time to cutting Russia off from Western scholarship. But that can only be a good thing, right? “For everyone knows that the earth is flat and rests on three whales – Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality, and over all the world sounds the Kalashnikov.”
Kolesnikov then says what should have been obvious to all from the beginning of his essay: the foreign agents law is absurd, “as absurd as any totalitarian system of law. It is subordinate not to the logic of law but to the needs of the political leadership as a particular point in time.
This law “does not correspond to the Constitution of the Russian Federation,” even if the system’s courts say otherwise. But it will have one consequence the powers that be do not appear to have taken into consideration, one that in fact will represent a threat to their power and positions.
It “will allow for the formation in the country of a firm foreign agent majority” whose members will be better able to see just what their rulers are trying to do to them.