Staunton, Nov. 12 – No one should have been surprised that the Kremlin did not take the lead in marking the 300th anniversary of the declaration of the Russian Empire given that Russia today is far more like pre-Petrine Muscovy than in five significant ways, it differs from Peter’s empire, Roman Trunov says.
The Rosbalt journalist says that the current guardians of traditional values as they understand them have “in practice rejected those of the state which arose thanks to Peter the Great.” In their return to the past, they have “slipped through” that state and returned to “an inert pre-Petrine Muscovy” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2021/11/12/1930581.html).
Five differences between the Putinite “traditionalist Russian state” and the Russian Empire of Peter are so striking that one cannot fail to see them and speak about this, Trunov says.
The first difference is that the Russian Empire was proclaimed when Russia was on the rise and focused on the future. Now, “the Russian Federation moves from victory to victory exclusively on television screens.” Reality beyond those screens is everywhere degrading.
The second is that the Russian Empire spread its rule via military means; but in today’s world, influence can only be spread by soft power and that is something present-day Russia does not have at all. It may be able to seize land but it alienates others more when it does so than when it avoids that approach.
The third distinction is that the Petrine empire “was open to the world.” It attracted and relied upon foreign specialists. Putin’s Russian Federation is rapidly closing itself off to the outside. “In Petrine times,” Trunov says, “the Nemetskaya Sloboda, now Lefortovo, was a place Muscovites associated with foreigners. Now, it is an FSB prison.”
The fourth difference is that the population of the Russian Empire was growing rapidly, while that of the Russian Federation is falling and may soon be less than the number of residents of the entire Russian Empire in 1897.
And the fifth, the Rosbalt commentator says, is perhaps the most important. The Russian Empire evolved in the direction of a constitutional monarchy, while the Putin regime has become a personalist dictatorship. The tsarist regime was imperfect to be sure, but “it didn’t occur to anyone that Pavel Milyukov or Aleksandr Guchkov should be killed or exiled.”