Saturday, June 10, 2023

With His Hyper-Centralization, Putin is Making a Civil War More Likely, El Murid Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 8 – Ever more Russians are talking about the possibility of a civil war in their country after the passing of Vladimir Putin, Anatoly Nesmiyan who blogs under the screen name El Murid says, with some fearing that that will lead to the disintegration of Russia and others that it will lead to a recrudescence of an even more authoritarian centralized state.

            Both outcomes are possible, he continues, but the more immediate question is whether the Putin regime itself has created conditions that make such a conflict more likely or less. El Murid argues that despite Putin’s rhetoric and the assumptions of many, Putin has made such a conflict more likely (

            The blogger’s argument is based on an examination of what are the necessary conditions for a civil war and what are the sufficient ones. He argues that Russia avoided civil war after 1991 because of the continuing influence of Soviet homogeneity and power-sharing arrangements Yeltsin worked out in his 1992 agreement with the regions.

            Today, El Murid says, that power-sharing arrangement is viewed as “a mistake and even a step toward the potential disintegration of Russia.” But “that is absolutely not the case.” And in fact, Putin’s nullification of that accord had made possible “the entire current lists of crimes against Russia by the Putin regime.”

            The reason for that is the following: Yeltsin’s accord meant that people in one part of the Russian Federation viewed conflicts in another part of that country as far removed from their concerns. That limited the impact on Russia as a whole of both the first post-Soviet Chechen war and the clash between Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet in 1993.

            The blogger notes that in 1993, he was living in Tatarstan and that the Moscow events of that year did not unsettle the republic because they were viewed as something local. “The regions philosophically related to what was happened in Moscow; and if the Supreme Soviet had won, they would have continued to live according to their own agendas.”

            By nationalizing politics, Putin has changed that; and he has created a situation in which force is the only means of suppressing differences between the center and the periphery and among various political blocs. As long as he has the force, Moscow can do that; but with his departure that will become more difficult.

            That is the result of the Kremlin leader’s campaign to destroy federalism; but to the extent that has only masked the differences between the center and periphery and left the country without a mechanism to resolve them other than through the use of force, that makes the use of force and consequent clashes more rather than less likely after Putin’s departure from office.

            According to El Murid, Russia “can remain a single space if we manage to create and implement a conciliatory mechanism that resolves the basic contradiction of our country, but if we do not create it, we will go through a civil war, as a result of which we will either end up disintegrating or returning to a unitary and non-viable state, which in a very short time will again go all the way to our current state and again cyclically return to the current point.”

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