[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]
As predicted, Putin’s popularity takes a nosedive.
This fact is not often discussed in the West, but the popularity of Vladimir Putin is in decline and has been so ever since, following his reelection, he kept more or less the same (already unpopular) government while that government very clumsily attempted to “sneak by” a pension reform undetected. Now the latest numbers are in, and they are not good: only 31.7% of Russians trust Vladimir Putin, that is his worst score in 13 years! His score last year was 47.4% (by the way, Shoigu got only 14.8%, Lavrov got 13%, and Medvedev got 7.6%. These are terrible scores by any measure!)
First, it is obvious that millions of Russians (including yours truly) were deeply disappointed that Putin did not substantially reorganize the Russian government following his triumphant reelection last year. Putin himself is on record saying two things about that: first, that he is generally happy with the performance of the government and, second, that he needs an experienced team to implement his very ambitious reform program (more about that in a moment).
Second, it is equally obvious that the pension reform is profoundly unpopular and that Putin’s personal credibility has never recovered from this political fiasco.
Third, and this is the most overlooked and yet most interesting development – there is a *real* opposition gradually emerging in Russia. What do I mean by “real”? First, I mean not a “pretend opposition” as we see in the Russian Duma (which is a glorified rubber-stamping parliament). Second, I mean a *patriotic* opposition which is neither financed nor controlled by Mr. Soros or the CIA or any of their innumerable offshoots. The problem is that this opposition has many severe problems and that it completely fails to present an alternative to the current “Putinocracy.”
Here we need to state something significant: Putin is indeed a “liberal,” at least in terms of economic policies. When he says that he is happy (“on the whole”) with the performance of the Medvedev government, it is because he probably is. Furthermore, while Putin apparently likes to listen to folks like Glaziev, he is clearly wary of implementing the more “social” (or even “socialist”) measures advocated by Glaziev and his supporters.
But if Putin is a liberal, is there really a 5th column acting behind the scenes?
This being said, it would be wrong to jump to the primitive conclusion that there is no 5th column (or no “Atlantic Integrationists”) in the Kremlin or in the Staraya Square. In fact, it would be impossible for such a 5th column not to exist. How do we know that? For three very basic reasons
- The AngloZionist leaders of the Empire absolutely *hate* Putin. Those pretending to deny that are either terminally dishonest or fantastically stupid. Either way, they are wrong. Simply put: by the late 1990s Russia as a country was quasi-dead, finished, something like the Ukronazi occupied Ukraine today. Not only has Putin single-handedly saved Russia from collapse, he turned Russia into a power capable of defeating the plans of the Empire not only in Syria but also in the rest of the Middle-East. Yes, all the accusations of “collusion” and “hacking” are verbal prolefeed for TV-watching intellectual midgets, but that does not mean that the leaders don’t have real, factual and logical reasons to fear Putin and Russia. They do. And they are doing everything in their power to weaken Russia and overthrow Putin.
- Most of the Russian elites achieved their elite status in the 1990s (some even in the 1980s!), and many of them hate Putin for putting a stop to the total robbery bonanza which made it possible for these people to not only come to power but also make a killing financially. As for the so-called “economic block” of the Russian government, it is entirely made up of what I loosely call the “WTO/IMF/WB/etc.” -Types: folks who sincerely endorse the so-called “Washington Consensus.” The very *least* one could say about these folks is that their worldview and ideology are not only totally alien to traditional Russian values, they are in fact profoundly anti-Russian. For these folks to become the 5th column is the most natural development.
- The system which Putin inherited was one deeply integrated with the AngloZionist sphere of financial, economic, political, and social influence. While western sanctions (and general political shortsightedness) severed many of these ties (thank you to the Neocons for their life-saving sanctions and, especially, hysterically Russophobic propaganda!), there are very few cases (if any) of Russians severing such ties. Some believe that Putin sincerely wanted Russia to join NATO or/and the EU. I don’t agree with that, but whether he was sincere or not, the fact is that Putin did initially try to court the West. The fact that the West was too stupid to see the fantastic opportunity this situation was offering is yet another powerful testimony of how incompetent western “area specialists” have become.
Putin’s 2007 “Munich speech” should have acted like an urgent wake-up call to the leaders of the West, but they lacked the brains and courage to listen to what Putin was saying. The same thing happened during Putin’s 2015 speech at the UNGA. To his internal Russian audience, Putin bluntly said, when asked if the West was trying to “humiliate” Russia: “They do not want to humiliate us, they want to subdue us, solve their problems at our expense.” Personally, I believe that Putin, as any other officer of the First Main Directorate (foreign intelligence) of the KGB always understood that the West was a mortal enemy of Russia and that this has been true for at least 1000 years. Thus I think that it would be naive to believe that Putin ever “trusted” the West. But did he deliberately give that impression for as long as it could serve his purposes? Yes, absolutely. Now, this period is clearly over.
The one thing which the Russian 5th column cannot really be is any type of “opposition.” First, the 5th column is internal to the Kremlin, to the Presidential Administration, to the “United Russia” party and to all the other centers of power in Russia. This forces the opposition to pretend loyalty to Putin while sabotaging every effort at re-sovereignizing Russia (admittedly a tough task since Russia has been ruled by foreign elites since at least the times of Peter I).
[Sidebar: I am often asked why Russia Today and Sputnik publish what can only be called “trash” or even anti-religious propaganda on their websites. The answer is simple: there are plenty of folks at RT and Sputnik (especially in the teams operating their websites as opposed to the actual broadcasts) who are pure products of the AngloZionist worldview and who love some sleazy sex story almost as much as they love to bash or ridicule the Orthodox church. While there are plenty of terrific people in both of these media, there are also plenty who secretly would love Russia to return to the 1990s or become a kind of “Poland” east of the Ukraine. This is also why these outlets make a strenuous effort not to discuss the Israel lobby in the West (not only the USA), but they also stay away from any discussion of 9/11. I know for a fact that any mention of the real events of 9/11 is strictly forbidden by some “bigshot” editors in Moscow as my own interviews were censored that way.]
One word of caution here: there are millions of Russians abroad, and many of them are what are now called “вырусь” (vy-roos’) in Russia: folks who might speak Russian, and even visit Russia from time to time, but who have completely lost their “Russian-ness” and whose worldview does not extend beyond wishing that Russia was more like the USA or Germany. They think of Russia as “rashka,” and they absolutely hate any genuine manifestation of Russian culture, spirituality, traditions or religion. Some of them will join the Alt-Right movement and pretend that the racist categories and ideology used by this movement have some traction in Russia (they don’t). Some will try to impersonate Orthodox Christians. In truth – they are still a pure product of the AngloZionst Empire. Some of them have clearly found gainful employment in the Russian media where they keep a vigilant watch for any signs that the ideological dogma of the West (we all know what they are) are being debunked by Russian patriots. These “vyroos” are yet another manifestation of the Russian 5th column.
What about the official opposition to Putin?
Then there is the “official” Duma opposition, which is more or less a joke. Some Russian MPs are better than others, but even the comparatively better ones are entirely unable to present a real challenge to the Russian government (we saw that painfully illustrated by the Duma vote on the pension reform).
As for the ordinary people, most of them probably still trust Putin in foreign policy issues, but many are also getting genuinely fed-up with an arrogant and condescending ruling elite which couldn’t care less about the plight of regular people and who live in an ivory tower of wealth, arrogance and power.
There is also a gradual realization that Putin in generally being “too soft” on the Empire and not proactive enough in defense of Novorussia against the Ukronazi junta in Kiev. Sadly, I have to agree with them. Yes, there has been some progress: the Russian ban on exporting energy to the Ukraine and the deliverance of Russian passports to the people of Novorussia. Furthermore, the Kremlin has expressed precisely *zero* approval of Zelenskii’s election and, apparently, this was the correct move since even though the policies of Poroshenko were categorically rejected by an absolute majority of the Ukrainian people, all the signs are that Zelenskii has already wholly caved to the demands of the “collective West”. Unless this trend towards “more of the same, only worse” is reversed, it is likely that the popular pressure in Russia to be far more proactive against the regime in Kiev will only increase. In recent months the Duma has been under pressure from the public to take a more forceful reaction to the events in the Ukraine, and this has had some, albeit limited, effect: the totally lame Duma has now become a little bit less lame, but not by much.
So what is this new opposition to Putin?
The distinguishing characteristic of this new opposition to Putin is that it sees itself as the truly patriotic segment of Russian society. These are folks who blame Putin for being weak, indecisive and corrupt (including personally). They believe that Putin sits on the top of an oligarchic pyramid which only pays lip service to Russian national interests, but which in reality is interested only in wealth, power and influence. Frankly, much of their argumentation about Putin’s alleged corruption is based on a mix of disinformation and personal hatred for Putin himself. In contrast, however, their arguments that Putin is too weak or indecisive are based on a completely rational and fact based analysis of the events which have marked Putin’s presidency. After all, the man has been in power for 20 years or so, he has enjoyed tremendous bureaucratic power and the full support of the vast majority of the population. How then can he (or his supporters) blame it all on a “bad system” or the power of a 5th column whose existence some don’t believe in in the first place?
On the right is a typical opposition “Internet poster”.
While I personally don’t agree with this point of view, I have to recognize that it is not self-evidently absurd or solely based on propaganda. In other words, they do have a point, and much of their criticism is valid.
Alas, much of it is not, and that mix loses a lot in credibility when 50% of it is fact-based and logical, and 50% is not.
What is even worse is that these patriots regularly find themselves in the same camp as the Soros/CIA -funded folks whom the patriots claim to hate, but whose arguments they often recycle (about the personal corruption of Putin, for example).
The other major weakness of this new opposition is that it lacks any kind of leader. This is why I did not bother listing the names of the main representatives of this opposition: for most of those who will read this article, these names will mean nothing.
Finally, this new patriotic opposition seems to lack an original worldview: much of their argumentation boils down to “it was better in the Soviet era” (they typically tend to overlook how bad things indeed were, at least since the 1980s!).
So where do we go from here? Will Russia ever have a real, vibrant, opposition?
My short personal answer is, yes, Russia will have such an opposition. Here is why:
- The official Duma opposition is both useless and hopeless.
- The Soros/CIA financed opposition is discredited beyond rescue.
- The 5th column is fundamentally a fraud, and most Russians hate it.
- The current “patriotic” opposition will grow due to the policies of the Russian government, and they will probably learn from their mistakes.
- Crises often (almost always) generate the appearance of new leaders
I hope that the newly emerging “patriotic” opposition will focus its wrath not on Putin as a person, but on the mistakes of the Russian government wherever they happen: President, Prime Minister, Minister or below – it should not matter. If the opposition succeeds in focusing on issues rather than venting its rage against specific individuals, then real changes become possible, including personnel changes.
The latest opinion polls show that all the members of the government are suffering from falling ratings, not just the Atlantic Integrationists. If this trend maintains itself, the Eurasian Sovereignists will have a powerful incentive to cut their ties with the Atlantic Integrationists. Who knows, maybe Medvedev and the so-called “economic block of the government” will be shown to the door? If not, then the plunge in the polls will most likely continue, and social unrest becomes a real possibility.