Staunton, October 17 – Demands by Moscow prosecutors that the Russian Academy for Economics and State Service monitor the political views of its students and report them to the authorities induces a sense of déjà vu among those who can remember the Soviet past but may have even more serious consequences, Konstantin Eggert says.
In Soviet times, “the secret political police worked as one would suppose secretly,” the Russian commentator says. But now, “everything in this case is completely open,” with the prosecutors being the agent of the FSB in collecting such data (dw.com/ru/kommentarij-rossijskie-vuzy-proverjajut-na-lojalnost-putinu/a-55303970).
According to Eggert, “in a legal democratic state, any chief would be afraid to fulfill these illegal and amoral demands of prosecutors. But in Putin’s Russia, as in Lukashenka’s Belarus and other post-Soviet states, everything is just the reverse.” Officials not only feel they have no choice but see fulfillment as boosting their own standing with the powers that be.
This trend began in Russia after Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, but it has intensified in recent months and even weeks. “The peaceful popular revolution in Belarus and the unsuccessful attack on Aleksey Navalny have added to the zeal of the Russian siloviki who now with redoubled effort are trying to find sedition in the system of higher education.”
They have their reasons. Not only are young people playing an increasing role in opposition protests, but the powers that be fear that graduates of universities may enter state service and prove unreliable in the event of a crisis. And so they have adopted this illegal measure of forcing university administrators to do their work for them.
It is often said that Putin reads historical literature, Eggert continues. If he does, he should know just how counterproductive such actions are. It was pressure on students and instructors at the end of Imperial times that contributed to the radicalization of the intelligentsia and increasing sympathy for Marxism.
The Kremlin clearly thinks that this time will be different. It is wrong, the commentator says.
The powers that be think that the combination of fear and open borders will work forever. Fear will keep most in line and open borders will mean those who can’t accept things will leave. But not all will, and thus the authorities by such actions are generating their own nemesis and doing so in such a public way that this will happen sooner rather than later.