Thursday, March 31, 2022

Russian Elites Seeking to Adapt Themselves to New Reality They Didn’t Create, Don’t Support But Can’t Criticize Openly, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 22 – Scholars refer to Vladimir Putin’s rule as a personalist dictatorship, one in which he makes all the decisions on his own and others have to defer to him, Sergey Shelin says. As a result, since the Kremlin leader decided to invade Ukraine, Russian elites have sought to adapt themselves to the new reality they didn’t create but can’t criticize openly.

            Many have made remarks that show they were anything but enthusiastic about Putin’s decision, but almost all have more or less immediately changed their tune and swung behind his policies, promising to support them by adapting to the world his decision has created, the Rosbalt commentator says (

            But the lack of any demonstration of an elite self-consciousness and independent role cannot be explained “only by the personalistic nature of the regime, fears for what could happen to them if they did challenge it, or the impotence of corrupt and cynical minds now confronted by ideas that are becoming obligatory for everyone,” Shelin says.

            “No less important,” he suggests, is that the supposed elites fully sense their lack of legitimacy either in the eyes of the population or those of the dictator. Instead, they are perceived and know that they are perceived as “something alien and unnecessary” to the current functioning of the Putin system.

            And that sense which has led them to knuckle under rather than speak out or seek to defend their own interests is part and parcel of what is becoming a national crisis whose outcome is completely unpredictable. Almost anything now seems impossible and will until it actually happens, the commentator suggests.


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