Sunday, August 13, 2023

Putin for the Time Being has Given Carte Blanche to Siloviki to Persecute Those They View as Opponents, Kolesnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 7 – When Putin denies he has ever heard of dissidents who have been arrested, he likely is speaking the truth, Andrey Kolesnikov says. But he shows that he isn’t reading the newspapers but only the reports his aides have prepared and that he accepts the actions of his subordinates against such dissidents as a priori justified.

            That reaction in fact represents an opening of the door to mass repressions when siloviki can take action on their own in the expectation that the Kremlin leader will approve or at least will not interfere, an expectation that existed in Soviet times and allowed repressions to spread, the New Times columnist says (

            For a time, Putin benefits from this situation just as Stalin did; but there comes a point when those who visit repressions on the basis of such analogies and expectations of approval creates conditions in which the top leader is at risk because the actions of his subordinates in this regard may go too far and undermine his regime.

            Many forget that at 1937, Stalin cut back but did not eliminate repressions, likely because he recognized that keeping things at the fever pitch of that year would work against him just as he backed away from the excesses of mass collectivization with his “dizzying with success” speech, even though he did not give up the policy.

            Kolesnikov’s argument suggests that something similar is possible with Putin, that the current occupant of the Kremlin like his predecessor may allow his subordinates much latitude in their actions but then restrict them after a time only to let them have their head again. That wave-like pattern is another of the consequences of such approaches.

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