Staunton, July 20 – Vladimir Putin “views the world as a zone of struggle of a very small number of sovereign lords – oligarchs, heads of special services and those he’s invited to the table,” opposition politician Leonid Gozman says. “For him, Khabarovsk is a conflict of three to five people” and the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets are irrelevant.
The Kremlin leader “does not understand that the people in Khabarovsk, and everywhere else as well are not the property of some party, generals, and factory owners; they are free, and not because he gave them freedom – he didn’t! – but because they are people.” As a result, he continues to “spit in their faces” (newsru.com/blog/20jul2020/feodaly.html).
That attitude explains why he had the state media ignore the protesters and then tried to explain them away by saying they were the work of Western intelligence services, a claim that in the words of commentator Abbas Gallyamov, “80 percent of Russians do not believe,” although Putin probably does (echo.msk.ru/blog/gallyamov_a/2679143-echo/).
It explains why the Kremlin is missing the fact that “’the deep people’ have awoken” and are now demanding freedom, the return of their right to choose their leaders, and that Putin be retired and his United Russia party be put “in the trash can” and gaining confidence that as long as they stay unified they cannot be denied (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/78364).
And this contempt for the people further explains why Putin apparently believes that his new appointment of an outsider to run Khabarovsk will be accepted, something initial reports show won’t happen. It doesn’t matter how good he is, people there say, he is an outsider and will face problems (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/prostoj-russkij-pacan/ and kp.ru/daily/27159.3/4256504/).
Instead, the protests in that Far Eastern city are likely to continue, and the anger at Moscow will intensify even if over time fewer people go into the streets. That anger in turn both in Khabarovsk and other cities east of the Urals is a far bigger problem for Putin than he imagines.
It will affect upcoming elections there, analysts in the region say, and thus Putin’s standing with the elites he cares about as well as the Russian people about whom, his response to the Khabarovsk demonstrations shows, he clearly doesn’t (babr24.com/irk/?IDE=202967).