Staunton, May 5 – Like Russian rulers in the past faced with defeats abroad, Vladimir Putin is likely to try to compensate for his failure to deliver the quick victory in Ukraine he promised by playing up Russian hostility to religious and ethnic minorities inside the Russian Federation.
The Kremlin leader will seek to rebuild his image as an all-conquering hero by suggesting to Russians that the only reason Russia has not won in a war abroad is because of enemies at home, the IdelReal commentator says, and like his predecessors, he will find it easier to attack minorities rather than ideological opponents (idelreal.org/a/31838957.html).
There are two reasons for that, Aysin suggests. On the one hand, to go after ideological opponents along gives them or at least their arguments a status Putin and his regime wants to deny them. And on the other – and this is vastly more important – the population will find it easier to focus on readily identifiable religious or ethnic minorities than on ideological groups.
Russian history provides innumerable examples of this, including the attacks on Jews by Nicholas II and Stalin and attacks on ethnic minorities by almost all leaders of modern Russia. The government finds it easier to mobilize people with hatred than with positive ideas, particularly when it has none of the latter to offer.
What this means is this, Aysin says. Putin’s regime will be looking for new enemies at home to explain or at least cover for the Kremlin’s losses abroad; and it will find them in precisely the places past Russian regimes have – in anti-Semitism, Caucasiophobia, Islamophobia and general hostility to any ethnic or religious minority.
In the short-term, this unleashing of atavistic attitudes may prolong the life of a regime that has nothing positive to offer; but in the longer term, the promotion of such attitudes may create a monster that the regime will not be able to contain and that may very well sweep it away.The true horror of the situation arising from Putin’s war in Ukraine is thus ahead: many groups are going to suffer long before his dictatorship is swept away, and members of these groups are not going to forget why they were chosen as sacrificial victims and by whom and which nation attacked them.