Sunday, June 21, 2020

Constitutional Changes Leading to Barbarization of Russia Directly and Indirectly, Luzin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 18 – If Putin’s constitutional changes are approved on June 24, that will change more than just what their specific provisions say, Pavel Luzin argues. It will open the way to the revision or complete replacement of more than 30 key laws and thus open the way to “the barbarization of Russia after the pandemic.”

            This can be clearly seen, the regionalist writer says, if one recognizes that the Kremlin with these amendments and the referendum it has organized to “approve” them is simply a new example of the procedure it employed to change the Russian political system after the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea (

            Now, as then, the Kremlin is seeking to mobilize the elites and the masses in order to make them complicit with what it has done and plans to do, a strategy that worked well for it in the wake of the Anschluss and that threatens to work well again after June 24, thereby inflicting far more damage on Russia than many expect.

            According to Luzin, the Kremlin now has sought to mobilize the ruling class by making it complicit in what is going on by involving it in the drafting of the amendments and thus willing to support “voting without rules.” And it is mobilizing the population not in the expectation that it will gain support but that it will not face opposition.

            In simplest terms, he continues, “the Kremlin is trying to bring forward a new version of ‘the Crimean referendum’ of 2014 when elites and the population both were made to feel complicit and thus left them without the ability to oppose what Vladimir Putin wanted to do with his system in Russia.

            The elite backed him then because it felt he was working for them, and the population did because even those who had doubts about the annexation felt that the people as a whole had approved it. The same process is now in train, and it won’t end later this month, just as the annexation of Crimea did not stop with that action.

            To be sure, the Kremlin faced more problems this time around. On the one hand, the elites were more divided because of uncertainties about how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. And on the other, those who might have mobilized the population largely withdrew from the competition because of the restrictions the government put in place.

            In many respects, Luzin argues, “the Russian opposition became paralyzed.” It “self-isolated itself not just from the problems of voting but from making sense of what in general was happening in the ashes left from the quarantine” decisions.  But the pandemic is not the only thing that has allowed Putin again to move in the direction he wants.

            The Kremlin leader is exploiting what is going on in the United States and in Europe, trends toward the destruction of the globalist order and the return to a more isolationist world, in order to push through these changes which open the way to still more and ultimately to the barbarization of Russia.

            “Such barbarization is the logical consequence of the archaism which has already raised its head,” one of the clearest examples of which is the shrine of the armed forces. But that has been overshadowed in the West by the clash between leftist groups on campuses and big cities and the neo-traditionalism of rural areas and those with less education.

            The Kremlin is delighted to use this: What is happening elsewhere gives Russians the sense that they must accept their own poverty and lack of freedom and prospects because “the demoralized first world has lost its ability to focus” and is itself prepared to barbarize its own political and economic orders.

            This is not the first time this has happened and with disastrous consequences, Luzin concludes. In 1936, the Soviet Union adopted the Stalinist Constitution; and under the cover of its positive phrases taken from Western ones, the Kremlin then proceeded to move in an ever more retrograde and repressive direction.

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