Thursday, January 6, 2022

Kremlin’s Narrow Concern for Its Own Self-Preservation Leading to Moscow’s Loss of Control, Shelin Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 16 – The almost “maniacal concern for self-preservation” that the leaders in the Kremlin are increasingly displaying is rapidly turning into “a loss of control” for the regime because it threatens those most loyal to that regime and thus threatens the regime itself, Sergey Shelin says.

            The Russian powers that be in ever more cases is “conducting itself as if it has ceased to be concerned about its own authority and about the defense of the interests of its own nomenklatura,” the very foundation of the Putin system, the Rosbalt commentator says (

            First of all, those in power are giving orders which they know either will be resisted and left unfulfilled or reversed without explanation, something that causes those who have issued the orders to lose face and thus authority in the eyes of the population. That has happened again and again in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, Shelin says.

            Second, the Putin regime has violated one of the first rules of autocratic governance, forcing it either to move toward totalitarianism or face decay. “Autocracies, which aspire to stability tell all groups of the population what the limits are within which they can live quietly and without fear. Those limits can be narrow, but they are well-known.”

            “Our regime doesn’t explain anything to anyone,” he says; and it doesn’t act as if there are any rules anyone can count on. That may not be an immediate problem when this lack of certainty affects the population, but it can quickly become serious if as now, this lack of rules affects regime supporters who assumed they could count on being defended.

            Worse from the point of view of the regime’s stability and survival, members of the elite can see that how they are treated depends not only whether they play by the rules as they understand them but on the outcome of struggles above them in the hierarchy. If they are viewed as being on the losing side, they will suffer even if they have been completely loyal to the top.

            This means, Shelin stresses, that “the system has ceased to fulfill on of its most important obligations – it no longer is defending its own people. The nomenklatura thought that because it was playing by the rules, it could count on a peaceful life but now it suddenly sees that there are no rules and no peaceful life either.” Not surprisingly, it is both frightened and angry.

            And third, while the upper reaches of the Putin system “want the government to be concerned about its international prestige,” they also want that it “always remember” about its need for profit and security. And now, these people see that the Kremlin isn’t concerned about either.

            The Russian nomenklatura loves to go on an done “about national pride, but it did not sign up either for the loss of its property in the West or even more for a nuclear war.” And it certainly didn’t come out in support of Putin in the expectation that at some point, he would take away its privileges and ability to pursue its goals without interference.

            For that reason too, Putin’s own pursuit of personal security is becoming “a source of heightened danger for them” – and because it is for them, it is for him as well.


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