Staunton, December 9 – The Kremlin is currently trying to maintain its authoritarian regime by restricting the rights and freedoms of Russians who only want a normal life but no longer have much hope of that anytime soon, Kirill Martynov says. In that, the Russian regime is doing exactly what Lukashenka did earlier and that the Belarusians are now protesting against.
In an interview with the regionalist 7x7 portal, the politics editor of Moscow’s Novaya gazeta says that the Kremlin is now going beyond the limits it had set for itself and involving itself in the private life of Russians in ever more restrictive ways. For now, the regime has enough siloviki to hold on, but the population is becoming angry (lr.7x7-journal.ru/martynov/).
The regime is also able to do so for the time being, Martynov continues, because while Russians now understand that the future isn’t going to get better anytime soon and are working to adapt to this new and unpleasant reality, few of them have reached any conclusion about what to do.
That too parallels Belarusian events of only a year or two ago. There was no real popular opposition, but then Alyaksandr Lukashenka went too far with his election falsifications and repressive moves against various groups in the population. And a massive protest movement arose virtually overnight.
The same thing can happen in Russia, Martynov suggests.
Russian society is also deeply split. “The growing conservatism of social life is beginning to come into direct confrontation with the Europeanized part of Russian society which views normal life as being one where people can achieve European quality education, freely travel about the world, and make a career in branches which aren’t subordinate to the state.”
As the state reduces the number of such possibilities by its growing repression, the political editor says, such people find themselves in a situation in which protest or emigration is the only option. For a long time, even these Europeanized Russians thought they could hold out, just as Europeanized Belarusians did. But now neither group does.
The Kremlin has tried to cover its aggression at home with aggression abroad, describing the combination as a kind of “post-modernist” approach to governance. But in the West, Martynov says, almost no one sees what Putin is doing in that way. Instead, they view his policy as “neo-imperialist revanchism.”