Staunton, December 27 – The powers that be in Russia have achieved a remarkable number of victories in 2020, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. They have eliminated the formal limits on their time in office, they have restricted the rights of Russians, they have maintained their own savings, and they haven’t encountered protests from the population.
In the coming year, the Russian economist and commentator says, they are likely to take the next step and seek to destroy the dissidents, confident that moves against them just like the Soviet regime’s actions in the 1970s, will not lead to demonstrations. And they are likely to succeed, he argues (theins.ru/opinions/inozemtsev/238025).
There are several reasons for that most unfortunate conclusion, Inozemtsev says. First of all, “’the dissidents’ and ‘the powers’ are two polar and on the whole marginal social groups. The third, many times exceeding their size are ordinary people who are occupied above all with their own survival.”
“This part of society rarely gets involved in political struggles,” a reality that the powers that be in Moscow see “much more clearly” than do Russia’s dissidents. The latter have fallen into the trap of believing their own propaganda on YouTube and other Internet channels rather than considering the people around them.
Given this, Inozemtsev says, the Kremlin with at least the passive support of the population plans to move against the dissidents far more radically in 2021 than it has so far and seek to the maximum extent possible to “root out all possible manifestations of dissidence” in the Russian Federation.
In the coming year, he continues, there is thus likely to be a serious fight between the dissidents and the powers that be and this fight is almost certain to end with the victory of the latter and importantly the defeat of the former and all its hopes for the displacement or radical change of the Putin regime.
“Russian politics is entering 2021 on a direct line from 1993 and to expect here either a ‘left’ or ‘right’ turn is at the very least naïve. Dissidents are being driven out not only from the powers that be but in large measure from the country as well.” The attitudes of young people remain open, but they are unlikely to be determinative in this fight “not for life but to the death.”
Those tied to the regime have nowhere to retreat and those in society are unlikely to provide the kind of support the dissidents would need to survive let alone win. For major positive changes to happen, either there would have to be a deeper split in the elites or greater popular support for change than is now the case.
The looming wave of new repressive measures is unlikely to change that as is the nature of the economic crisis. Empty stores may unite people, “but empty pockets divide them” with those whose pockets are least full arraigned not against the system but against those who have only a little more than they do.
“Six years ago,” Inozemtsev concludes, he “wrote that economic stagnation and political problems will not be able to destroy the regime and that it will be replaced only when those in possession of Russia do not continue to derive benefits from that. Unfortunately, our country is too rich to expect any such end in the near future.”