Staunton, February 27 – Despite all his authoritarianism and other shortcomings, Abbas Gallyamov says, Vladimir Putin has one “undoubted plus” in comparison with Stalin: the Russian president isn’t bloodthirsty, takes no pleasure in mistreating others, and uses force only when he feels a real threat to his position.
“In the Russian ruling group,” the former Putin speechwriter and now commentator says, “there are many openly tyrannical types who would shed rivers of blood.” Such people are “especially numerous among those who have emerged from the siloviki, but there aren’t many among others such as among the governors” (newsru.com/blog/26feb2021/putin.html).
Putin isn’t interested in shedding blood for the sake of doing so, Gallyamov continues. “In principle, he could easily transform his regime into something much more bloodthirsty,” especially as there are so many around in and in the population who have forgotten what Stalin was really like and are quite prepared to bring back the Soviet dictator’s approach.
The regime Putin has established and maintains is hardly gentle, but “all the same, it is far from being Stalinist.” As a result, while politically motivated violence and even murders do occur, this is “the exception and not the rule.” This doesn’t mean Russians should approve that, but they should welcome that the president isn’t inclined in the same direction.
And “the radical opposition must clearly understand that when it warns about ‘a new 1937,’ most people in the country do not understand what it is talking about. This very strongly interferes with the ability of the opposition to move beyond its current limits, even in a situation when protest attitudes are intensifying and people in principle are ready to oppose the regime.”
Given how much violence there has been to people like Boris Nemtsov and Aleksey Navalny to name but two, this may seem “a little blasphemous;’ but one must keep in mind that the number of these cases is in the dozens and not in the millions.” And that difference is quantity represents a difference in quality.
The Russian people recognize this, and the opposition needs to as well. Otherwise, it will alienate rather than attract additional support for its campaign against Putin.