Monday, January 22, 2024

‘Hybrid’ Protest in Bashkortostan Far Greater Threat to Kremlin than All Anti-War Actions Taken Together, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 18 – What has taken place in Bashkortostan should tell Vladimir Putin something he clearly doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to hear, Vladimir Pastukhov says. And it is this: “anyone who likes to unleash hybrid wars abroad must be prepared for hybrid protests in the rear” within his own country.

            According to the London-based Russian analyst, the Bashortostan protests are of “a special kind.” They are not “anti-war or democratic or anti-corruption” acts in their pure forms. Instead, they are “a little bit of each of these.” But they receive their energy from religious and nationalistic feelings (

            The Bashkirs who have come into the streets are protesting not so much against Putin “as against imperial policies regardless of who is carrying them out – the ‘bad’ Putin or the ‘good’ one,’” he says. It is instead “a protest against the new (old) great power paradigm” that the Kremlin favors and has imposed.

            For all these reasons, Pastukhov argues, “such a hybrid protest is much more dangerous for the regime than all the democratic (anti-war) protests taken together. It has a completely different nature and energy” and presents challenges to Moscow that the center has no good way to meet

            According to Pastukhov, “the unrest in Bashkortostan is comparable only to the pre-war protests in Khabarovsk, fueled by local patriotism, and perhaps secondly only to the Prigozhin rebellion which was also a hybrid protest but behind which however, the great-power chauvinism of the Russian people loomed only dimly.”

            Another aspect of the hybrid nature of the protest is that the republic leader is presented “everywhere as ‘a correct Bashkir’ but in reality is a typical ‘Muscovite Varangian,’” imposed by the Kremlin on the people of the republic without any concern by the Kremlin about how Bashkirs felt about it.

            Pastukhov says that “the war and the associated policy of great-power chauvinism has awakened powerful but hitherto dormant forces in the peoples of Russia. This revival means that they are ready to direct their protests against the regime,” especially when the regime violates their social needs.

            In short, “what we are seeing now is an historical pattern like the one that Russian followed when its empire fell apart two times before. We are not going to see something new this time either,” Pastukhov says; and it is critical that everyone pay attention to that reality rather than dream about some “beautiful Russia of the future.”

            What matters, he concludes, is that “the energy of this protest is not directed only against the current regime.” It is directed at the way in which Moscow has organized political life from time immemorial. Thus, protests energized by this won’t “stop at anything before the collapse of Russia.”

            And Pastukhov concludes: “There’s nothing much to be happy about here for the time being. Russia is sitting on a time bomb that Putin has placed under it, but that bomb is one that will [likely only] explode after he leaves the scene.”

No comments:

Post a Comment