Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Putin’s Approach to Pandemic Highlights Better than Anything Else Nature of His Regime, Shaburov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 12 – Vladimir Putin’s approach to the pandemic, first having Russians stay home on his order and then allowing them to go back to work when the governors allow it, is not any aberration but rather highlights better than anything else the often perverse nature of his regime, according to Aleksey Shaburov.

            In an essay entitled “The ‘Hybrid’ Quarantine in Russia has Ended in a ‘Hybrid’ Fashion,” the editor of Yekaterinburg’s Politsovet portal says that in fact the way Putin ended the days off program is far and away the best illustration of this point (

            In it, we see, the commentator continues, “one of the beloved methods” of Putin and h is regime, “the denial of the obvious, calling black white, and doing all that with a look suggesting that he is totally unconcerned.”

            The rates of coronavirus infection haven’t yet fallen overall and are rising in some places. It is way to early to speak about a plateau. And yet at exactly this moment, Putin and his regime decided to announce the end of “the non-working days.’” Many Russians will read this as an end of the pandemic, begin to act freely, and spread the virus even more widely.

              Moreover, Shaburov says, the whole notion of “’non-working days’” is a pathetic information trick given that many Russians continued to work from home. But the way they have been ended is even more duplicitous because their end “does not mean a return to work of those who really didn’t work.” Each region will decide on its own.

            Moreover, during all this, the Putin regime has shown its habit of acting “beyond the limits of law.” Of course, when Putin talks about observing the law, this too is a kind of deception and “distracting maneuver.”  There is no such thing as “non-working days” in Russian law.

            By agreeing to this travesty for six weeks, the commentator says, we have “indirectly confirmed that for us Putin is above the law. In essence, he is the very ‘legal framework’ and this framework can be expanded or contracted depending on current requirements” not of the Russian people but of the Russian leader.

            The fines that first the federal government and then the regional ones introduced for violating the quarantine were equally without any legal basis, but they were accepted because Putin introduced them, Shaburov says.  “This is a beautiful illustration of how Russian laws work in practice.”

            And yet another characteristic of the Putin system on display in all this is the fact that those who take decisions avoid all responsibility for them.  Putin has shifted responsibility away from himself on innumerable working groups and the governors, and the governors even know are thinking about how they can shift responsibility to someone else.

            And finally this episode shows how the people and power in Russia really view each other. Those in power talk about how wonderful the Russian people are but see that the people don’t do what is wanted and for that they must be punished. The people in turn “hears what it wants to hear and conducts itself as it considers necessary.”

            The people too “consider the powers wise and great, when when it comes to specific actions, it prefers to act according to its own calculations.” And it too is more than prepared to shift responsibility from itself to the powers just as the powers do in every case, Shaburov continues.

            As a result, what has occurred in Russia may be called “’a hybrid quarantine,’” by analogy with “’hybrid war’ which is at one and the same time being waged and not being waged.” All victories thus become “ours” and all defeats someone else’s. The powers like to operate in such an environment and in it are “like a fish in water.”

            But “the authorities (any) always work in the first instance for their own advancement and self-preservation,” Shaburov says. “Whether this corresponds with the survival of the population under conditions of the coronavirus, we will learn later. Or we won’t find out at all. If we are lucky, or if we aren’t.”

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