Staunton, February 25 – Vladimir Putin’s speeches to the FSB are often the most important he delivers because he speaks more frankly and openly to his colleagues in the security agency and thus signals what his real thinking is and where he is heading, Moscow commentator Roman Popkov says.
In these speeches, Putin inevitably talks about the need for “a struggle against extremism” and for countering foreign enemies. But in his remarks yesterday, Popkov says, “for the first time he devoted his primary attention to the struggle with ‘the internal enemy’ directed by the foreign one” (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/vystuplenie-putina-pered-chekistami/).
Specifically, he said that Russia must be concerned about a linking up of these two elements because the West wants to weaken the country and “put it under outside control” and has decided that using the domestic opponents of the Kremlin as one of the best means to do just that.
It is interesting and instructive, Popkov says, that Putin made use of the notion of conspiracy theories now so popular in the West to suggest that it is the link between Western enemies and domestic ones that is the most important thing for the security agencies to be thinking about and working against.
Indeed, because he discussed the possibility that foreign governments could use terrorism against Russia, it is entirely possible that “our president completely seriously considers that the special services of the US and Western Europe will use terrorists against us,” a perspective that raises the stakes of any case of terrorism, even one that could be a provocation.
That perspective suggests that the Kremlin will be inclined to link any domestic actors to foreigners and thus impose the far harsher punishments Russian law provides for and many Russians will accept as legitimate than those which can be imposed for the actions of Russians on their own.
Such an approach becomes “even more disturbing because Putin refuses to recognize the political standing of individual citizens and indeed, entire nations, including the Russian.” In his speech to the Chekists, Popkov points out, the Kremlin leader did not call for them to analyze and make sense of the reasons behind the growing protest wave in the country.
Instead, Putin’s words mean that he expects them to see these developments not as arising from domestic causes but as a result of the machinations of foreign intelligence services whose only goal is to work against the Russian Federation. In such a worldview, “there is no place for people, their interests or their right to insist upon their interests.”
Instead, everything is reduced to a struggle between Russia and the outside world and especially the United States, the commentator concludes, something that makes clashes between the people and powers in Russia far more explosive, dangerous and fateful than would otherwise be the case.