Staunton, May 16 – In many countries, there is a longstanding division in political attitudes between the liberal coasts and the conservative hinterlands. In the case of Russia, Anatoly Nesmiyan who uses the screen name “El Murid” says, that division is between the largest cities which are playing the role of “coasts” and everyone else.
In many places such as Turkey, he continues, conservative governments precisely because they are interested in development dig their own graves by promoting the flight of people from the hinterlands to the major cities and their integration in urban life (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6462F9D07B5DA).
But in Russia, there is a somewhat different pattern. There, El Murid argues, the Putin regime is committed to the degradation of the country not its development. As a result, the Kremlin now seeks to have people from the smaller cities overwhelm those in the megalopolises, to dilute the power of the former “coasts” and give the regime a mobilizable population.
People incompletely urbanized in smaller cities and then moving to the largest ones are the most “susceptible to psychological manipulation,” he suggests; and Putin’s voters come from this part of the population. That in turn means that Russia is likely to face for a time at least an expansion in the electoral basis of the regime via populist sloganeering.
In order to keep the rest of the country from completely emptying out, the Putin regime is increasingly relying on immigration, thus ensuring that it will have a base for itself as long as it remains in power. But that is “an extremely dangerous process” because it “threatens to erode the identity of the indigenous population.”
Elsewhere, that risk is enough to keep governments from taking this step; but in Russia, whose regime “doesn’t count on surviving any longer until there is something to steal and export, the prospect of losing that identity is a matter of indifference,” however much it talks about protecting traditional values. Indeed, that talk is simply a cover for what it is doing.