Staunton, August 13 – Having in fact formed a tsarist autocratic regime, Vladimir Putin could without difficulty declare himself emperor, but because he likes a show and appears embarrassed to refer to himself as he “really” is, the emperor of Russia, the Kremlin ruler “clings to the attributes of a republic,” Vladimir Pastukhov says.
If Putin announced tomorrow that he was emperor rather than president, no one would go into the streets in protest and instead Russians would simply say, “we now have an emperor,” and “life would continue as before,” the London-based Russian analyst argues (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/2886362-echo/).
But Putin clearly enjoys his games and shows; and because he shows no sign of changing that before 2024 and the presidential “elections,’ it is important that the Duma elections take place like clockwork, that there not be any malfunctions. Because he will want a legislature to pass the laws he deems necessary before and in 2024, he needs a “constitutional” majority now.
That this is what Putin is organizing means that he has made a decision to “ignore all democratic norms and formally conduct a ritual voting procedure precisely in the Soviet style,” without competition, without a level playing field and without any real monitoring by an agency that could in fact do so.
“I am in the minority who believes that it is a humiliation to participate in such a farce,” Pastukhov says. “I don’t see any political benefit from doing so.” Eventually, near the end of the Putin regime, elections will matter and then “the same thing will happen [in Russia] as is taking place in Belarus now.
“For the time being,” he continues, it seems to me that participation in this performance is a kind of political debaucher, the corruption of a politically immature people.” Indeed, Pastukhov says, taking part in Putin’s show is much like inviting a 15-year-old to a porno movie. He may happily go, but it is unlikely he will get much out of it.”
The regime can and will change the rules whenever it wants to ensure that it gets the outcome it wants. That being the case, the game will go on; but it is hardly necessary to take part at all, let alone with any enthusiasm or hope.