Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Russia has Never Left the 1990s and Elites are Again Trying to Find Someone to Calm People, Syomin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – The conventional wisdom is that Russia has left the Wild 1990s far behind, but in fact, we have not left the conditions” of those decades, Konstantin Syomin says. Power and property and concentrated in the very same hands, and the people are increasingly angry.

            As a result, the author of Agitation and Propaganda says, the top elite is once again as was the case in the late 1990s casting about for someone within the elite who can calm the population and suggest that everything will be well and that a new apocalypse is not in the offing (nakanune.ru/articles/117457/).

            This continuity, Syomin says, has prevented the emergence of a new party who can both win the trust of the people and guide the country through its rapidly approaching difficulties. But the situation also explains something else: the efforts of the Kremlin to find someone, anyone who can win back public support and a willingness to try out new people.

            That explains both the recent rise to prominence of Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu who appears to have a lot of new ideas and is prepared to share them and the willingness of Vladimir Putin to allow him to do that as well as the Kremlin leader’s attempts to shake up United Russia in the hopes of calming an increasingly angry population.

            It isn’t clear whether either of these tactics will work, the analyst suggests; but the fact that they are being made in the way that they are shows that the basic matrix within which the top elite of Russia operates is exactly the same as it was in 1998-1999 when Boris Yeltsin chose Putin to play that role.

            And that lack of development should frighten both those who support Putin’s course and those who oppose it because it suggests that the country has stagnated not as it did in Brezhnev’s time but in a new a more turbulent period when radical changes are so clearly required, the author says.

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