Staunton, Dec. 28 – Over the last 12 months, Aleksey Shaburov says, everything in Russia has been “put in motion” with both informal rules and actual laws no longer observed but with no clearly defined new ones put in their place. This has opened a struggle over what the new ones should look like but no clear agreement about either has yet been reached.
The Yekaterinburg commentator says that up to 2022, everyone understood what the informal rules were and obeyed them and most of the time both those in power and those under them obeyed formal laws (politsovet.ru/76151-vse-prishlo-v-dvizhenie-neochevidnye-politicheskie-itogi-2022-goda.html).
But in 2022, everything changed, Shaburov says, with ever more political figures deciding that they could ignore the rules and the laws and try to carve out most power for themselves. There is every reason to think that trend will intensify in the coming year, and that by itself will change the nature of the Russian system.
When no one is confident that any informal rules or formal laws will be obeyed and that many will test them to try to boost their power, then both at the top of the political system and throughout the population uncertainty about what lies ahead will intensify and ever more people will do what they can to try to protect themselves.
The consequences of this change, Shaburov continues, are enormous. If earlier, one could speak about contracts between the Kremlin and elites and between the rulers and the ruled, now one no longer can; and that makes these relationships vastly more unpredictable, with people on both sides increasingly inclined to see how far they can go.
In the past, the powers were careful not to violate what had been the social contract; but given what they have done in the past year and gotten away with, the Yekaterinburg analyst says, they are likely to be far less cautious in the steps they will be willing to take in the future. How the Russian people will react to that, however, very much remains to be seen.
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