Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Moscow 2024 isn’t Kyiv 2014 or Even Minsk 2020, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 9 – Some analysts have suggested that the Kremlin is worried by the success Boris Nadezhdin had gathering support from Russians opposed to the war, but they are wrong to do so, Sergey Shelin says. But that is because they fail to see that “Moscow 2024 is completely different not only from Kyiv 2014 but even from Minsk 2020.”

            “However, the sight of people openly and legally condemning the war and dictatorship,” the Russian commentator says, “certainly does anger the authorities given that for almost two years, it was spared this” because “anti-war Russia doesn’t even think about attacking the regime because the regime is quite ready to attack it” (moscowtimes.ru/2024/02/09/antivoennaya-rossiya-znaet-svoyu-slabost-i-protiv-rezhima-ne-poidet-a121185).

            “Two years ago,” Shelin continues, “with the beginning of the invasion, ‘systemic’ opposition disappeared as a phenomenon. The Duma ‘opposition’ figures became indistinguishable from the rest of the nomenklatura,” forcing the Kremlin to select someone like Nadezhdin rather than allowing the parties to choose Putin’s opponents.

            Russia’s leaders didn’t expect Nadezhdin to do as well as he did and so had him removed bureaucratically. But there was no chance that the Kremlin would have allowed. Dictatorships sometimes but only rarely lose elections. But it is never the case that these electoral losses lead to regime change: that only happens if those who voted for the opposition follow up.

That happened in Ukraine but it hasn’t happened in Russia, Shelin says. “On the contrary,” Russians take part in elections as an end in itself rather than as a means to achieve something. And it must be recognized that Nadezhdin himself is “an obvious representative of precisely this Russian tradition.:

 Some are now debating whether he was “sincere” in the views he expressed, but the more important questions are whether he was really ready and able to escape control by the regime and lead the masses and whether the masses are so angry now that they are looking for such leadership? The answer to both of these, Shelin argues, is negative.

He wasn’t and the population isn’t, and so there was never any chance that Nadezhdin would play even the role of Belarus’ Sviatlana Tichanouska let alone the leaders of a Ukrainian Maidan. The Kremlin knew that, he knew that, and so too did all honest Russians, the commentator concludes.

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