Monday, March 15, 2021

Real Power in Russia, with Putin’s Approval, has Passed into Hands of Siloviki, Gennady Gudkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 13 – Russia has shifted from a harsh authoritarian regime to “a genuine ‘developed’ police dictatorship,’” opposition politician and commentator Gennady Gudkov says, with power having passed, albeit with Vladimir Putin’s approval, into the hands of siloviki under the control of Security Council secretary Nikolay Patrushev.

            The Kremlin has decided, Gudkov continues, to ignore laws, the constitution, and morality in favor of relying on the judgement of the police and the security services who will be able to act without any restraints in order to defend the powers that be from any challenge (

            This change is the result of a political decision in the Kremlin “to completely destroy all centers of protests and opposition” like Aleksey Navalny’s, to destroy the influence of Mikhail Khodorkovsky inside Russia, and “to finally cleanse under any pretext the social-political ‘field’ of any presence of independent politicians, prominent social figures and free journalists.”

            Gudkov draws that conclusion on the basis of the imprisonment of Navalny, the charges against prominent journalists, and “today’s unprecedented event,” the arrest of 150 participants in the All-Russian Forum of United Democrats on the pretext that “undesirable” organizations were involved.

             According to the commentator, for some years, Russia has been mired in illegality, arbitrariness, and theft by those at the top. Now, “all rights and freedoms declared in the Constitution will be liquidated, the purging and negative selection of the cadres of judges, prosecutors and all the force system will continue.”

            This group “must be ready at the required time to shoot at the population; that is, to conduct itself as the KGB and Interior Ministry who supported the putsch in August 1991 did.” But even before that moment, there will be more and more repression and the suppression of “the LAST independent media.”

            “Political censorship will become total, and the regime will continue its current course of limiting and even completely blocking social networks and platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Clubhouse and the like.”

            “Illegality and arbitrariness will spread through all spheres of the lives of Russians,” Gudkov continues. “’The deep people’ will feel on themselves of the consequences of what is happening today after many months when they personally encounter not just empty pockets and a lack of basic goods but more manifestations of the police-bandit arbitrariness of the powers.”

            By that time, of course, it will be too late for them to resist, although in fact, the commentator suggests, it is already past time to do so. The economy continues to stagnate and decline, the international isolation of Russia is only increasing, and capital flight is accelerating as is the emigration of the best and the brightest, including the young.

            As a result, there will be further cases involving the collapse of infrastructure, more environmental disasters, accelerating demographic decline, and the collapse of the social sphere. And the regime’s propaganda while becoming increasingly shrill will also become increasingly ineffective.

            In response, the Kremlin will turn to the only means it believes it has to unite Russians – new military aggression abroad, something that has worked in the past but may not in the future, Gudkov suggests. The only way out of this is “the quick and final exit of Putin from the political life of the country.”

            And when he goes, he must be replaced by people who unlike him will “either agree with society about RADICAL reforms” or face the prospect that they too will be pushed out. According to Gudkov, “no one knows” just when all this will happen; but he suggests that it will occur in “not MORE than three to five years.”

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