Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Three Main Trends in Russia, Still Treated in Isolation, on Collision Course, Krasheninnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 20 – Anyone who follows the Russian media might easily conclude that there are three distinct Russias now, one that is confidently marching forward under Vladimir Putin, a second that is under attack from the coronavirus that is affecting the entire world, and a third that is reeling under the collapse of oil prices and the ruble, Fyodor Krasheninnikov says.

            These three Russias are treated as if they are isolated from one another and that what is happening in one sphere will not affect another, the Russian analyst says, in much the same way that Mikhail Gorbachev treated the rapprochement with the West and the collapse of the Soviet economy (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/192109).

            But this media treatment, one that reflects in large measure the way the ruling elite views the situation given that it benefits from the first, is isolated from the second and is cushioned against the third, fails to recognize that the three Russias are interrelated and currently are on a collision course.

            The detachment from reality that the first Russia manifests cannot be sustained for long given what is happening with the coronavirus  and the economy, the way in which the pandemic is spreading is made worse by the developments in the other two, and the economy is floundering because of both.

            That should be obvious because “no three separate realities exist; rather, all events are taking place in one place and at one time.” And one would expect them to interact. But the failure to recognize this means that their interactions and the contradictions between them will only intensify.

            “For example,” Krasheninnikov says, “ever stricter limitations in response to the coronavirus epidemic make ever more absurd the preparations for voting” on the constitutional amendments. Indeed, it is already being reported that the propaganda materials for that event are not including the date, suggesting a delay is likely.

            And there is a real worry that the situation is moving toward a disaster in large part because the Kremlin like the media is treating these things in isolation. “The experience of the last 20 years of life in Russia in general teaches that … at critical moments, the powers in Russia will demonstrate their worst qualities – cowardice, cruelty, incompetence,” and repression.

            That is what happened 30 years ago, the commentator says. “Unfortunately, instead of drawing lessons, we for many years have only heard pronouncements about ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe’ – and this means only that our leaders did not understand anything and did not learn anything.”

            “Everything taking place in Russia now must be considered as a common process, one that doesn’t treat in isolation, politics, the epidemic and the exchange rate.”  If that is not recognized, Krasheninnikov says, “ever closer will be the moment when the political machine of the Putin regime at full speed will crash into an unpleasant reality which it won’t be able to change by shouts on television talk shows or presidential directives.”

            But one thing is already clear given how long the regime and its media have continued to treat these three things in isolation: “2020 will go into history not for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory or the rewriting of the Constitution in Putin’s favor but for something else which we still have to face.”

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