Staunton, Dec. 19 – The inability of Russians to influence their own government, an inability highlighted this year by the failure of protests against Putin’s war in Ukraine to affect Moscow’s policies, means that if Russia is to become a democracy and a federation, the international community will have to intervene to help create the institutions to allow Russians to have such influence, Vadim Shtepa says.
The editor of the Tallinn-based Russian regionalist portal Region.Expert says it is a mistake to ignore how many protests there have been in Russia against the war and how much radicalization there has been; but it is also a mistake not to recognize what the failure of these protests to affect Kremlin policy means for the future (4freerussia.org/ru/kak-regiony-protestuyut-protiv-vojny-v-ukraine-i-pochemu-ih-protest-nichego-ne-menyaet/region.expert/antiwar-protests/).
Unlike in the US during the Vietnam war or in Ukraine at the time of the EuroMaidan, in Russia, protests over the past year have not had an impact on the Kremlin, Shtepa continues. “Not a single State Duma deputy dared to oppose the start of the war in February and Putin’s decree on mobilization in September."
"Russia’s political system is not adequate to the public interests: when massive anti-war protests took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg earlier this year, not a single deputy of the Moscow or St. Petersburg city assemblies spoke out to support them.”
It is most unfortunate, he says, that “some Western observers reproach Russians for not protesting enough against the war. But these reproaches do not take into account the political dimension of the moment. Could one imagine mass protests against the Stalin regime in Soviet Union in 1939? Or in Germany against?"
"Given complete destruction of civic institutions in Russia … any protest is doomed to be suppressed.”
Once the Putin regime is defeated and gone, Shtepa says, Russians will have the opportunity to begin again to construct a democratic and federal state. But they will need outside help. If they don’t get it or if such aid is not massive and comprehensive, then there is a great danger that a new authoritarianism will arise precisely because of the lack of institutions from which Russia now suffers.