Staunton, April 27 – Many Russians thinking about the future are focusing on the election of new leaders to replace Vladimir Putin and his crew, Ilya Shablinsky says; but holding those elections and installing new people in place of their current occupants is perhaps the least of Russia’s problems post-Putin.
The lawyer, who is a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, says that these numerous tasks will be especially difficult because at least some of them will have to be addressed and solved at one and the same time, something that makes thinking about them now especially important (polit.ru/article/2022/04/27/shablinsky/).
Obviously, Shablinsky says, the constitution and most laws will have to be cleansed of their authoritarian and presidentialist nature, the economy will have to be freed from state control and reintegrated into the world, and the media will have to become completely independent of the state, which must not be allowed to have its own media.
But of particular concern, the Helsinki Group lawyer says, is the danger of secession by non-Russian or even Russian regions. He says he is worried about this because “no government in Russia and no State Duma will accept the thesis, “whoever wants to leave can.’ It won’t be possible to sell that to most voters.”
This issue worries him because of what he saw between 1990 and 1993 and especially because of his experiences in Kazan during talks with Tatarstan leaders about their status. Most support for secession has dissipated, Shablinsky continues, but it remains and not just in non-Russian areas. Some Russian regions are interested in it as well.
In that sector as well as all others, enough power has to be divided so that compromise won’t be viewed as something to be opposed but as a requirement for survival. Over the last 30 years, Russian elites have moved in the opposite direction; changing that will be an enormous, even overriding task.