Thursday, July 8, 2021

Russia’s Liberal Institutions will Continue to Lose Until They Focus on Horizontal Ties rather than Vertical Ones, Kirill Rogov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 3 – The dismissal of Yaroslav Kuzminov as head of the Higher School of Economics – and it was a dismissal orchestrated by the Kremlin rather than a decision he took independently – highlights a fundamental problem of all remaining liberal institutions in Russia, commentator Kirill Rogov says.

            Like Kuzminov, they have been playing defense against the ever darker authoritarianism of the Kremlin in a way that virtually guarantees that they will be wiped out one by one, the liberal commentator says. That is, they have sought to make deals with the powers that be rather than cooperate with one another (

            By focusing on the dominant vertical power structure of the Putin system, they have tried to prevent the regime from closing them down. But they have only delayed that outcome, Rogov says. The only way in which they can survive without being degraded bit by bit is to form horizontal alliances with other facing the same threat.

            Doing so won’t be easy. The regime will respond, but only horizontal alliances against the regime can prevent first the degradation which the regime is imposing on all of them and then their destruction one by one. Until that is recognized and until the remaining liberal institutions act on the basis of that recognition, Russia will have a dismal future.

            Those who want to avoid that must therefore refuse to negotiate away their positions with the powers that be and instead focus on forming ties with others similarly situated so that they can stand up together against the Kremlin on behalf of themselves and their country. Doing anything else represents a dangerous retreat toward ultimate destruction.

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