Staunton, April 19 – Vladimir Putin and his team in the Kremlin do not believe that protesters will ever be able to dislodge them from power, but they do fear something else that is almost as frightening, Abbas Gallyamov says. They are afraid that growing protests will have the effect of weakening the power vertical and thus creating an unstable and unpredictable situation.
“For the Kremlin, the key problem [with the protests] consists not in that the protesters could physically seize power,” the former Putin speechwriter and commentator says. The regime has far too many coercive resources at its disposal to think that such an outcome is possible (realtribune.ru/protesty-vedut-k-paralichu-sistemy-upravleniya).
Instead, the Putin regime fears that the protests “will lead to a reduction in the capacity of the administrative system to function, up to the point of its complete paralysis.” The state apparatus now is “not very effective” and when its staffers see that the bosses have problem, it and they “will entirely cease to work.”
According to Gallyamov, “in a situation in which the administrative vertical weakens, the bureaucrats will begin to ignore the orders of those above them. They will fulfill orders ever less quickly and without question, and at a certain moment, the state will simply dissolve into a congeries of separate entities with each pursuing its own goals.
As such a situation begins to emerge with the increase in protests, “bureaucrats will quietly begin to act according to what seems most correct to them. They will remember the old notion which was thought up specially for such situations: ‘When you don’t know how to act, follow the law.’” That in and of itself threatens the lawless Putin regime.
The Kremlin now counts on its ability to have officials do what it wants rather than what the law says. If that is compromised, if officials begin to refuse to act in that way, that will change the regime or even destroy it because a Putin government that lived by the letter of the law would not be the Putin regime people know now.
If officials decide that they have to be able to point to some law to justify their actions lest they get in trouble with their colleagues, the protesters or some post-Putin government, they will begin to act in ways that will lead either to chaos if the regime remains divided on this point or toward a more law-based arrangement than Russia has known under Putin.