Thursday, July 23, 2020

Putin’s Response to Khabarovsk Shows He Can’t Correct His Mistakes and Will Make More, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 21 – The Khabarovsk crisis which Vladimir Putin created and has not yet solved reflects the fact that he is operating in his own parallel reality, can’t correct his mistakes and thus can be expected to make ever more of them in the future, according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin.

            Putin has operated on the basis of what he assumes is true of the Russian political system rather than on the basis of new information, the commentator says. As a result, he failed to understand that removing Sergey Furgal would have the consequences it had or replacing him with an LDPR deputy won’t end the protests (

            And that highlights a bigger problem: “the reality in which the ordinary person lives is completely different from the parallel world in which the leader and his corps of selected advisors and assistants are operating within.” As a result, “it would be strange to expect from them an adequate response” to anything that doesn’t fit into their models.

            Putin assumed that he could remove Furgal as he has removed other governors without those in the latter’s fiefdom objecting. He failed to recognize that people elected Furgal precisely because he was opposed to the Kremlin and that the governor had won more support by his actions since taking power.

            Moreover, Shelin says, it is clear that the decision to oust Furgal was taken some time ago but not acted on first because of the pandemic and then because of the plebiscite. But that time delay gave people in Khabarovsk time to plan how they would respond and set the stage for the protests that have followed.

            Putin then compounded that failure by not charging Furgal with some recent “crime” but rather reviving a 15-year-old  charge that made it even more clear to everyone that the Kremlin had to come up with something and couldn’t do better than that, thus undermining Putin’s own position still further with the Khabarovsk population.

            And given Putin’s view of the world, there was no chance that he could have any of his executors speak with the protesters in an honest way, something that might have calmed the situation but that, by its absence, only further inflamed feelings and showed just what Khabarovsk was up against.

            In naming an LDPR functionary to replace Furgal, Putin made the situation for himself still worse: He reinvigorated Vladimir Zhirinovsky, made the systemic parties less systemic, but because the new man was so obviously an outsider, precisely what lay behind anger in the kray, did little to solve the Kremlin’s situation.

            Putin obviously thought that by making a concession to the LDPR, he would be pleasing the Khabarovsk street, but “in reality, voting for the LDPR and taking its leadership seriously are completely different things.”  Khabarovsk residents and not just they voted for the LDPR only because this was their only option to show their dislike of the system.

            Given all this, the political analyst says, “anyone who is following the Khabarovsk crisis can see that each new decision of Vladimir Putin drives the conflict ever further into a dead end. He and his system simply cannot do otherwise,” a pattern that does not bode well for their future or that of Russia.

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