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Feb 19, 2021
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Stages of a long journey: From the Gulag archipelago to Putin’s “island of freedom”

Stages of a long journey: From the Gulag archipelago to Putin's

Photo: Anna Sheveleva / TASS

Meeting with the leaders of the Duma factions, President Putin emphasized that people are not just waiting, but “justly demand” tangible changes. Taking into account this nuance, the head of state called on the deputies during the election race “not just to swear with each other,” but to conduct a constructive dialogue.

Interestingly, the president said something similar earlier, when he announced his message to the Federal Assembly in January 2020. “Today in our society there is a clear demand for change. People want development and strive to move forward in their profession, knowledge, in achieving prosperity, they are ready to take responsibility for specific deeds, “he said then, adding that often people know even better than the authorities what, why and how to change there. where they live and work.

But still the cart, as they say, is still there. The severity for the country of the coronavirus pandemic, which tormented Russia worse than the Polovtsians and Pechenegs all last year, of course, no one is going to deny, but maybe the point is something else?

What kind of embodiment of the truly fair demands of the Russian society for tangible changes can we talk about if the Kremlin itself has been methodically and persistently clearing the entire “political clearing” for many years, including parliamentary parties, trying to exclude from the political process any strong and charismatic politicians of an alternative kind?

Yes, in Russia there are oppositionists of the “navalnist” type, who are ready to make the Maidan in the squares according to Western scenarios. But did not the authorities themselves, for example, initiate a three-day vote, which instantly became the object of sarcastic jokes, for the sake of introducing amendments to the Constitution? Was it not through the efforts of the authorities through the power structures that the representative of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation who could give people the long-awaited changes were scandalously removed from the management of the Irkutsk Region and the Khabarovsk Territory? Sergey Levchenko and a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party Sergey Furgal? Despite the fact that the Kremlin has repeatedly stated that there is no doubt about the patriotism of the parliamentary opposition.

And against this background, during the appointment of new members of the Central Election Commission, the Speaker of the State Duma Viacheslav Volodin calls Russia the last island of freedom in the world. According to him, it turns out that both in the West and in Eastern Europe there is no smell of democracy, but in Russia democracy manifests itself in all its glory.

Now the president, pointing to the just demand of the society, is actually calling on the parties to be quiet during the current election campaign. Plus a voting that took several days. But this, in the opinion of many political analysts, actually gives the ruling party a not weak chance to get a parliamentary majority again, which automatically cancels any changes in domestic politics.

What kind of rose-colored glasses did our government put on, hoping, while maintaining the existing state of affairs, to realize the just request of society for changes?

– I would turn the situation in two different directions, – suggested Director of the Institute of Contemporary State Development Dmitry Solonnikov… – Firstly, in my opinion, there is no difficulty in the fact that part of the governor’s posts, as well as part of the seats in legislative assemblies or municipal authorities, are occupied by representatives of various parties. Moreover, I am talking not only about the four parliamentary parties, but also about those parties that are not absolutely represented in the State Duma, but at the same time are also patriotic and aimed at the development of our country. It’s okay that their representatives would receive a majority in some region or government body, it wouldn’t have happened, but an alternative would have appeared.

“SP”: – This is what we are talking about, but isn’t the government itself preventing such a development of events, stopping such attempts almost in the bud? It turns out, speaking of patriotism, the authorities act unpatriotic?

– Here we need to talk not so much about patriotism as such, not about the development of the country, but about nomenklatura unity. And here it is one thing – looking at the situation from the position of the president, who is not officially associated with any party, and who, in my opinion, absolutely does not care whether half of the governors are represented by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Fair Russia, or some other opposition party. , or they will all be representatives of United Russia. Indeed, for himself, by and large, nothing will change.

And a completely different matter – the point of view on the same problem of the management nomenclature, polls reflecting the interests of exclusively “United Russia”. For her, a lot can change, if oppositionists come to power.

“SP”: – Why would it if it is called the “party of power”, and power in our country, as you know, is the president as the guarantor of the Constitution and the people as the source of power?

– Because the representative office of United Russia is a system of corporate governance, a system of certain redistribution of positions. This is a kind of stability for the already formed layer of bureaucratic management. For whom the entry into power of absolutely new people who are not bound by a circular corporate-bureaucratic guarantee is really dangerous.

This is where the legs of all kinds of KPIs for governors grow. It is no secret to anyone that when considering the candidacies of each of them in the presidential administration, they take into account the votes that United Russia receives in elections in their regions, and this is also true for governors representing other political parties.

“SP”: – For Levchenko and Furgal, it turns out that this was also relevant?

– Here there is a clear systemic contradiction. We can, of course, talk about the interests of the country, which would rather benefit from the presence of different political views in the government. And we can talk about the interests of a certain group of managers of “United Russia”, for whom it is completely unprofitable for representatives of a different corporate culture to join the system.

Here, along the way, another question arises – “United Russia”, promoting the administrative ideology of “tomorrow is the continued present” in power, meaning that tomorrow life will be the same as today, well, maybe a little better, in fact, it puts an end to the fact that the opposition parties represent some kind of real alternative to the vertical of power. Therefore, the change of, say, the governor-“United Russia” for the governor-“Fair Russia” for the region does not play a fundamental role. It is impossible to implement any alternative economic models, alternative laws, or alternative tax regimes in such conditions, even if we imagine that suddenly, on a command from “above,” a good third of United Russia leaders will be replaced by representatives of other parties. Formally, of course, pluralism will be shown.

The problem is that a cohesive system of bureaucratic management solves its tasks, and they, as they say, are terribly far from the people. This, according to the president, is what needs to be changed.

“SP”: – That is, in fact, the president is calling on the bureaucratic system to change itself? Is it actually possible?

“In fact, yes, although it sounds a lot like a voice crying in the wilderness. If the nomenclature feels the danger to its existence, then it should begin to change, at least out of a sense of self-preservation, but the whole history of our country suggests that this has never worked out. It did not work in 1917, nor did it work in 1991. And the president, I suppose, is just hinting – if everything continues as it is, it will end as it did then.

“SP”: – If imperial Russia ceased to exist in 1917, and the Soviet Union died in 1991, it turns out, that year, that way, in 2021 the history of modern Russia may well end in a similar way?

– It depends on how the nomenclature changes go. Attempt Gorbachev, not very manageable, led to the collapse of the USSR. But a similar attempt to break everything in neighboring China led to the opposite results – the Celestial Empire has now become virtually the first power in the world. So if our nomenclature cannot be changed from within, then, indeed, everything can end, as in previous times.

“SP”: – That is, people who justly demand changes, they will somehow wait.

– Everything will depend on how they behave. You can wait for changes and sitting at home, switching TV channels. At least the announcers will change on the screens. And you can actively participate in political life. In our country, people are extremely reluctant to take an interest in the life of parties. The leaders of the four main parties, and those are not known throughout the country. Who really goes to our polls? Still, they think that since everything is decided for us, let’s not walk at all.

But this is not so, we have an average turnout of 60% -70%. And if everyone comes and votes for themselves, then the decisions made by 60% -70% of the population, no one can ignore, and they will be clearly better than the decisions pushed at the rallies by two or three percent of the “city madmen.”

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