Staunton, Nov. 24 – For the first two decades of his rule, Vladimir Putin did not completely close the lid on Russian society, allowing people to let off steam, Nina Khrushcheva says. But over the past year, the Kremlin leader is closing it ever more tightly, allowing pressure to build up and making an explosion virtually inevitable.
When and how this will occur, the granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev who teaches at the New School in New York says, is for the time being impossible to say; but pressure for change is growing because of restrictions in society and among the elites (znak.com/2021-11-24/politolog_nina_hrucheva_o_rusofobii_v_ssha_pobede_putina_nad_oppoziciey_i_smene_vlasti_v_rf).
Khrushcheva does not see any chance for change at the top of the Russian political system anytime soon or for a fundamental transformation in the widespread view in the West that Russia is continuing to spread tension throughout the world.
Over the last several years, Putin has been “destroying the non-systemic opposition, and if someone after this says ‘boo,’ the powers will begin to destroy that person” even if that individual or group constitutes no threat. As a result, “now all are silent, and there are no political demonstrations.”
Putin has little room for maneuver either domestically or internationally, the New York-based Russian analyst says. The system Putin has put in place if it wanted to get rid of him would “either kill him or imprison him,” just as was the case with Lavrenty Beria “who was killed by his own system.”
That means that domestically, “the tightening of restrictions is our future,” Khrushchev says. But ultimately that may not be enough to save Putin because he has adopted a policy which is leading to a building up of tensions, and a single “match” may set this mix aflame and destroy everything.
Internationally, there is also a problem, she continues. “Russians for Americans are the very best enemy. Hating Russia is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn how to do it you never forget. In America, one cannot say ‘I hate the Chinese.’ That is racism. But ‘I hate Russians’ is something you can say as much as you want.”
In conflicts like that over Ukraine, both Russia and the US see benefits for themselves, Moscow because it is boosting its status and Washington because it is benefiting from the discipline an enemy like Russia provides, the scholar concludes.