Staunton, August 29 – Vladimir Putin has so focused on defeating his enemies and maintaining himself in power that he has “destroyed literally all the institutions in the country,” Abbas Gallyamov says. But the opposition is no better: it focuses only on Putin and not on what will have to be done after he leaves the scene.
The opposition in fact has “no understanding” of what will have to happen after Putin departs and has not devoted its attention to trying to identify what it or a Putin successor will have to do to restore in a modified form the institutional landscape the current Kremlin leader has demolished, the Moscow political analyst says (echo.msk.ru/blog/gallyamov_a/2894542-echo/).
The challenges of restoring a reformed institutional system, Gallyamov says, are enormous. Not only are there so many institutions to be revived; but the Putin years have created a situation in which there are powerful forces that can be counted on to oppose any change. Among these is a population fearful of change that others will exploit.
And it is a question not only of strategy but of tactics, of choosing which areas to focus on first and how to do so. The constitution needs to be changed, but there is no clear agreement on just how it should be rewritten or how the process of introducing these changes should occur, either retail or wholesale.
The media and especially state media are another sector that needs to be reformed. “Liberals say that the government doesn’t need its own media.” But “representatives of national minorities say that it does.” How are those who control these media to be dealt with. If they are challenged, they may simply begin “to agitate for a counter-revolution.”
Decisions about such things are not simply about abstract justice, as some may think. They are about practical politics and avoiding disasters like the ones Russia fell into during the 1990s. Those who want to see institutions revived and reformed “must avoid chaos and disorganization,” lest such things undercut their hopes for the future.
Those concerned about that future need to begin talking about these questions. Specifically, they need to come up with “a strategy for the development of post-Putin Russia.” And they need to recognize that this process is vital not only for the future but also for the political life of the country today.
At present, Gallyamov says, the Russian people are afraid of change and therefore support Putin. Once they can see that change would be in their interests and that there are ways to achieve it without going back to the post-Soviet decade, they will support those who offer such a road map – and they will desert Putin in droves because he doesn’t.