Sunday, January 24, 2021

Kremlin has Trained Russians Not to Resist by Frequency of Its Illegal Actions, Yasaveyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 21 – Again and again, the Kremlin has violated the law in its treatment of its own citizens, an approach that gives it not only the tactical advantage of punishing its opponents but the strategic one of convincing Russians that such things are normal and that nothing is to be gained by resisting them, Iskander Yasaveyev says.

            The population is left in the position of being too tired to resist, something close to “burnout,” the sociologist who works for the IdelReal portal says. If such violations are just the way things are and speaking out against them has no impact, then, for many, there does not seem to be any reason to do so (

            This condition, Yasaveyev says, “is the loss or significant reduction in the sensitivity of citizens to human (and not only human) misfortunes and sufferings as a result of the large number of reports about them. It arises as a result of ‘bad news.’” In thinking about this, he says, another useful term is “learned helplessness,” the loss of a vision between actions and results.”

            The sociologist says he doesn’t think that this is in fact a Kremlin strategy, “but Putin and his entourage clearly win as a result” because even free and critically thinking people are left without “a sensitivity to what is happening,” at least to the point of not being willing to stand up against it and see it as a threat not just to others but to themselves.

            Putin and his regime are of course delighted that Russians in many cases have concluded that protest is useless because nothing will change. “But this idea is mistaken,” Yasaveyev says. “There is always a chance to influence what is happening by your own actions” although it is not always easy.

            However that may be, “a free voice and actions of even one individual have significant meaning, not to speak about the voices and actions of citizens who unite for a cause,” he continues. Such actions not only respond to particular cases but to the general problem that the Putin system presents.

            It is certainly the case that protests do not always have the impact those who engage in them would like, but it is even more certainly the case that the results of failing to protest are even more obvious and unfortunate. One need not be the author of an anti-utopian novel to see what they are.

            Indeed, Yasaveyev concludes, what is critically important for Russians is to understand that their inaction makes possible the realization of Putin’s anti-utopia, a system in which a handful of people use the wealth of the country for their own enrichment and leave the remainder of its people increasingly poor.

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