Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lying is What Holds the Russian Regime Together, Gelman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 13 – “The lie is the most important ‘cement’ holding the Russian political regime together,” Moscow commentator Vladimir Gelman says. It not only legitimates the regime in the minds of its loyalists but also gives its supporters “an indulgence” to employ dishonesty “to support the status quo.” 

            Gelman’s observation on this point comes as a reflection over why Tehran took responsibility for the shooting down of the Ukrainian jetliner as opposed to why Moscow has not been willing to do so with regard to its shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014 (

            At first glance, the reason for this difference might appear to be a superficial one: Tehran “legitimately controls the air space over the territory of its country” while Moscow by means of its “Russian proxies” in the Donbass was “acting illegitimately on the territory of another country.”

            But that explanation is “incomplete and insufficient” given that Moscow frequently turns to lies to hide behind when it is caught engaging in some illegal or illegitimate action. One immediately thinks of the doping scandals as a manifestation of this pattern. And that means the real reason for lying in this case lies “much deeper.”

            According to Gelman, “it is connected with the fact that the lie forms the most important ‘cement’ holding the Russian political regime together. It seeks with its help to solve the problems of its own legitimation and at the same time as a payment for loyalty gives Russians an indulgence for lying in the name of supporting the status quo.”

            And thus, the Moscow commentator concludes, “the lie is not so much strategic behavior in response to specific situations as a means of existence of [Russia] as such.”

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