As I have already mentioned in a past article, there really is no “true” opposition in Russia. Putin and Medvedev have very skillfully manipulated the various political forces to make sure that none of the parties represented in the Duma would ever actually have a chance to come to power. They did that primarily by quietly promoting the emergence and continuous presence of political leaders whose positive image is dwarfed by their “negative image”. Take, for example, Zhirinovsky. Yes, he usually gets something in the range of 10-15% of the people to vote for him. But when asked “for which politicians would you never ever vote for, regardless of the circumstances?” roughly 70-75% Russian immediately reply “Zhirinovsky”. The fact is that the man is pretty much hated by all those who do not support him in the first place.
The figures for that old Communist dinosaur Ziuganov are only marginally better. Again, the Kremlin, in this case both Medvedev and Putin, has very skillfully manipulated the system to make the “United Russia” the “only game in town”, the rest is just a “democratic” fig-leaf aimed at giving the illusion of pluralism.
There are definite advantages to this setup. For one thing, no US-paid for “color coded” revolution is likely to happen in such circumstances. Second, everybody in Russia with money, power and ambition realizes that if you want to succeed you need to be with “United Russia” or risk facing the kind of problems which befell Khodorkovsky and his pro-Western allies. Thirdly, this type of setup guarantees a certain degree of stability and continuity. Simply put, if you do not have to worry about petty politics and elections, you can deal with the real business of running a country. And yet, there are also very real risks in this kind of setup, in particular in the mid to long term.
First, a lot of people have already become disgusted with the inevitable arrogance of those who feel that their power in theirs forever and who can basically ignore the public opinion. Second, by eliminating real diversity in the Duma this setup only pushes the discontent into the street, hardly a desirable outcome.
One clumsy and utterly hapless manifestation of this kind of “relocation” of the dissatisfied from the Duma into the street can be seen in the demonstrations which took place between the Parliamentary and Presidential elections last year. Yes, the “white bands” (i.e. US-style “color coded”) movement was a crazy mix of hardline leftists, hyper-conservatives, hyper-liberals, pro-US and rabidly nationalistic elements, but that is mainly true of the *political leaders and organizers* of these protests. But this “tree” should not hide the “forest” of the many simply angry, frustrated and alienated Russians who took to the streets to express their deep dissatisfaction. Yes, many more people were pro-Putin than anti-Putin, but that does not mean that there is not a large minority which is basically disgusted with the system in place.
Still, all these street demonstration never represented a real risk for the stability of Russia. As I said, this was a chaotic, disorganized, largely discredited movement which had nothing to offer, and no chance to ever even get into the Kremlin.
There is a far more dangerous phenomenon taking place which could present a real danger not only for Putin’s rule but even for the stability of Russia: dissenting movements *INSIDE* the Party in power.
As I have mentioned in the past, there are clear signs of real tensions between Putin and Medvedev. One of the most knowledgeable Russian politicans, Evgenii Primakov, (ex- Russian Foreign Minister, ex- Prime Minister of Russia, ex- Speaker of the Soviet of the Union of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and ex- chief of intelligence service. Primakov is an academician and a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences) basically admitted to that in the quote at the top of this page. The “tandem” is over, now Putin and Medvedev are in semi-opposition to each other.
Following the sacking of Serdiukov, it is now the turn of the the Minister of Education of Russia, Livanov, to be threatened with dismissal (for using crude language in front of a not-disconnected microphone). An increasing number of commentators are now speculating that Putin might use this opportunity to sack the entire government, including Medvedev.
There has even been a far more ominous development recently. A number of rather influential members of the “United Russia” (government) party have published a “Manifesto of Russian Political Liberalism” and, even more amazingly, they managed to publish it on the official website of the “United Russia” party! (original text here, Google translation here).
Now, of course, this is Russia, not Luxembourg, so the authors had to put a lot of disclaimers and caveats about what exactly they meant when they spoke of “liberalism”, a concept which is now totally discredited in Russia. Here is a typical Russian joke which illustrates the typical Russian view of liberals:
A new teacher comes into the class:
– My name is Abram Davidovich, I’m a liberal. And now all stand up and introduce yourself like I did …
– My name is Masha I liberal …
– My name is Petia, I’m a liberal …
– My Little Johnny, I’m a Stalinist.
– Little Johnny, why are you a Stalinist? !
– My mom is a Stalinist, my dad is a Stalinist, my friends are Stalinists and I too am a Stalinist.
– Little Johnny, and if your mother was a whore, your father – a drug addict, your friends – homos, what would you be then in that case? !
– Then I would be a liberal.
Notice that the new teacher has a typically Jewish name, which illustrates the Russian belief that Jews are the prime proponents of the kind of “liberalism” folks like Berezovsky or Khodorkovsky incarnated in the 1990s.
Still, beyond the caveats and disclaimers, there is now a semi-official faction of the “United Russia” party which openly advocates some form of liberalism even though this is in direct contradiction with Putin’s declared political objective stated in his article “Building justice: A social policy for Russia” which began with the words “Russia is a welfare/social state. We have a much higher level of social guarantees than other countries with similar productivity and per capita income levels“. In Russia the concepts of “liberal” and “social” are mutually exclusive, yet high ranking members of the party “United Russia” are suddenly publishing an article in defense of liberalism.
The three authors, which include Valerii Fadeev, editor-in-chief of the magazine “Expert“, have signed their names and added the title “coordinator of the liberal platform”.
In other words, the party “United Russia” now has an official “liberal platform” coordinated by three party bigshots. If that sounds like a direct challenge to Putin and his views it’s because this is exactly what this is.
To be fair, in this new struggle, it was the Putin camp which fired the first shots. First, the “All-Russia People’s Front“, created by Putin in 2011 as a “broad popular front of like-minded political forces” which would stand “above party lines” and it is now gradually turning into a “Putin Party”, especially since Putin himself as to resign from the leadership of “United Russia” when he was reelected as President. Then Serdiukov was sacked. At this point, it was clear that Putin was getting rid of his too pro-Western competitors and what is taking place now is a struggle inside “United Russia” to resist Putin’s policies.
Interestingly, the party “United Russia” is nowhere nearly as popular as Putin himself and, and this is even more important, there are far more Russians with a negative view of the party “United Russia” then there are with a negative view of Putin. All this only strengthens the fears of the Medvedev camp that Putin might turn the “All-Russia People’s Front” into a new party literally overnight, and that this party would have far more popular support than “United Russia” and its current leader Medvedev.
Until very recently, all was officially rosy and peaceful in the “tandem”, and the supposed love-fest between Putin and Medvedev was still supposed to be in full swing. Today, however, yet another direct shot was taken by Putin at the Medvedev government.
In a carefully staged leak, Putin was recorded “off camera” scolding the government for its poor performance and openly threatening to dismiss it. Here is the video (sorry, in Russian only) of that so-called leak:
This is a translation of the key words spoken by Putin:
– How do we work? Quality of our work – negligible. Everything is done superficially. If this is how we work we will get friggin nothing done. But if we work more aggressively and professionally, then we will get things done. So let’s raise the quality of our work. Orders need to be executed, if they are not then either I am not working effectively or you are all not doing your jobs and you all need to leave! I draw your attention to the fact that at this moment in time I am leaning towards the second option. You need to understand that and not have any illusions.
Not much of a love-fest left here, don’t you think?
The ‘leaked’ video (as if anything at all can be leaked from a Russian government meeting!) showed up on the website of the Russian tabloid “Life News” which triggered a tepid protest from Putin’s press secretary who declared it unethical to air a recoding made after Putin expressly requested that the cameras be switched off.
Right. As if anybody is dupe.
Bottom line: the fight between Putin’s “Eurasian sovereignists” and Medvedev’s “Atlantic integrationists” is heating up and becoming semi-official.
My personal sense is that Putin will probably end up sacking the entire government – including Medvedev – and form a new one lead by a very different figure. A likely first priority of this new government will reverse the pro-capitalist course of the previous governments (which even included calls for a 2nd wave of privatizations!) and will embark upon a much more social/socialist type of economic policies (including the nationalizations of even more large “strategic” companies). Polls show that a large majority of the Russian people do want to see big changes in the social sphere, including an improvement of the living standards of the lower-middle class, a group which so far has been excluded from the benefits generated for the higher social classes by the rapid growth of the Russian economy.
Needless to say, should any of that happen that will trigger an even bigger wave of Putin-bashing by the Western political elites and their corporate media.
Speaking of the West, the entire Russian press was incredulously commenting on the outright imbecile attitude of the Western press during Putin’s recent trip to Germany and Holland. At a time when the EU was in a deep, structural, crisis, when the war in Syria was showing not signs of ending, when issues such as immigration, terrorism or the planet’s ecology should be at the forefront of the discussions between world leaders, the Western press only had one single topic which seemed to interest them: homosexuals and their so-called “right” to marriage. That, and the chicks from Femen who somehow managed to elude the otherwise all-seeing eye of the German security services and showed their breasts to Putin at the Hanover exhibition. To say that the Russian press was unimpressed would be an understatement. Frankly, most commentators are openly wondering whether the West has not gone completely crazy.
As for the very few pro-US politicians left in Russia, they are terribly embarrassed to be associated in any way with the USA or the EU and they are forced to retreat into arguments such as “yes, this is disgusting, but our country also has bad problems” which, I am sure you will agree, is not much of a platform to stand on.
The internal power struggle inside the Kremlin is clearly reaching a new, more overt, phase and it will have to come to some sort of resolution rather soon as the current situation is unsustainable, in particular at a moment in time when the situation in Syria is threatening to turn into yet another regional war. One could also say that now is the perfect time to get rid of unimaginative, tepid or otherwise confused political figures like Medvedev and his allies and to make sure that the Russian state is run by one team united by a common vision.
Russia needs a government less preoccupied by pleasing the West and more concerned with the desires and needs of the Russian people.
Thanks for a great post.
I’m curious why now, exactly when all the West looks, financially at least, going full speeed to rock bottom, this kind of prowestern capitalists rear their heads in UR. I guess that is a lot of (fiat) money to be made, but what could be the additional factors in this?
Otherwise said, how can the “Atlanticists” get any credibility in the actual global scenary of Western decay?
Recently I lived in a resort in Sri Lanka completely full of Russians. My family are Russians I am not.
Still in lengthy conversations with many Russians young and old when the topic of Medvedez
(whom I detest)….the best anyone could say about him is he likes using Apple products !
Great indictment indeed for a Pro American Stooge.
@Well, “Westernizers” aka “liberals” aka “democrats” aka “Atlanticists” have a long history in Russia dating at the very least 300 years and it would be wrong to think that they have somehow vanished overnight. Then remember that the period roughly between 1990-2000 was one where their reign over Russia was absolute. I address this issue here:
And just in terms of financial and political power, the USA is still a giant, supported by a very effective system of planetary control. Yes, the West does face some major financial problems, but it still has much more power than most of the rest of the planet. You want one example?
Think about why this Magnitsky affair made such a huge stink? Just because a Russian lawyer either died in jail of neglect or was actually killed? Of course not! There have been MANY killed lawyers in Russia, and nobody cared. Because Magnitsky allegedly uncovered a money laundering scheme? Puh-leeze! There have been, and still are, tons of money laundering schemes uncovered on a weekly basis in Russia.
No the big deal is this: MAGNITSKY WAS WORKING FOR A US COMPANY. This is why the entire US establishment went up in arms over this case. The US message to Russia is simple: don’t you dare touch one of our guys! And it will work. I can assure you that the next time a pro-US lawyer lands in a Russian jail, he will most definitely not be negleted, much less so killed.
Finally, there probably are quite a few Russians who while not naive US fanboys do honestly believe that the best thing for Russia is to integrate the Anglo-run international system.
So its a combination of all that which explains what is taking place today. But the key thing to always remember is that the Putin/Medvedev team was put in place while Russia was still a 100% US colony, in 1999. Only LATER did Putin begin to show his true face. Initially, he was mistaken like a small, mediocre, petty-level bureaucrat. Just as the Western intelligence community totally misread Lukashenko in Belarus, they also misread Putin in Russia. Heck, even the Jewish oligarchs misread him!
It took them a full decade, but the ex-KGB elites did manage to get their man right back in power, and they managed to get him to be put in power by the two forces they most wanted to remove from Russian politics: the USA and Jewish oligarchs.
Pretty smart, no?
Excellent article, & now is the time to clear out the neo-liberals from the government.
From what I have been seeing, two of the biggest gripes the average citizen has with United Russia is the neo-liberals & the oligarchs, and there will be majority support for clearing them out. Most polls supports that Russians want strong government intervention in the economy & favour a form of socialism (not communism, however).
United Russia’s biggest threat is if Ziuganov is kicked off his perch & the communist party reforms into a dynamic socialist party, but the most likely contender to do that, Sergei Glazyev, has joined Putin as a presidential advisor and was the major player in forming the rules for the custom union.
I would be looking for Glazyev to play an increasingly important role, & while you are probably familiar with him from your excellent knowledge of Russian affairs, he is someone well worth following for anyone who doesn’t know him:
Putin Reported to Solicit Alternative Economic Policy From Academy of Sciences and Sergei Glazyev
“…Glazyev reportedly warns that the massive money-printing by the USA, UK, EU, and Japan, “to refinance their banks at negative real interest rates as the main line of anti-crisis policy,” is not only feeding into new “debt pyramids,” but opening the door to buying up and looting “real assets worldwide” — thus presenting a threat to Russia. The memo also reportedly invokes the war danger, saying that “the logic of how the global financial-political system reproduces itself involves a further escalation of military and political tension, up to and including the unleashing of a big war.”
Genocide: Russia and the New World Order
Clearly a Marxian economist who understands the macro-economic laws and tendencies of capitalist development.
@KenM:I would be looking for Glazyev to play an increasingly important role
Excellent instinct, bravo! Yup, Glazev is getting a lot of support in all sorts of interesting and increasingly influential circles. There has been some pressure to have him appointed as the head of the Russian Central Bank, but that would have been “too much, too fast” probably. Glazev is definitely a anti “Atlantic integrationist” and Medvedev & Co. will do everything to avoid letting him in any position of power.
As for Zuiganov, he is a clown whose role is to keep what I would call “modern communists” or “smart communists” down and away from power. Just like Zhirinovsky’s function is to keep modern or smart patriots away from power.
A neo-communist/neo-nationalist party has just been registered this week, its called the “Great Fatherland Party” (Партия Великое Отечество). The key figure there is a very smart young economist called Nikolai Starikov. While I have many topics of great disagreement with them (their Stalinism to begin with!), I predict that these folks will have a great future because of the simple, clear and fundamentally popular platform they are running on. Very interestingly, while these guys oppose certain policies of the Medvedev/Putin (now ex-)tandem, they do support Putin as the unchallenged leader of the “Eurasian sovereignists” camp. And this is just one example. There is an entire constellation of small parties being created right now a lot of which will support Putin as long as he continues to pursue the “Eurasian sovereignists” agenda.
Very interesting times indeed :-)
Cheers and thanks,
He smells of Russian Tsipras and Russian traitor.
Attention, Donetsk! To you goes the NIT-propagande!
Especially “stalinism” is dangerous Russian cancer what astutely depicts runo sometimes (https://z5h64q92x9.net/proxy_u/ru-en.en/runo-lj.livejournal.com).
Some may disagree with runo but he opens eyes on many issues and pressures to __think__ or checks info at least.
Glazyev was closed behind doors on which a table “Non Exists Department” was hanged.
The whole text badly needs to be rewritten or overhauled. The Putin vs Medvedev “leitmotif” is out of tune when one did listen to Fedorov’s interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCyUZjGV3Zg (Negotiations to remove Putin. Evgeny Fedorov).
The Russian V-th column issue is the salient problem now. Putin is either weak, lonely wolf or RF is in such deep danger His moves need time to be readied for 100% success. Or Putin is a Western stooge. The tragic status quo of RF cannot go on indefinitely if RF has to be revived from the economic and financial plight administered by the West (mainly the US and Germany) using the hands and heads of the infamous Russian V-th column.
Nota bene Fedorov did not answer or asked the question – how to free Russia as a state, society and civilization from the rotten social fiber which put Russia existence in jeopardy. My solution is Martial Law a’la Polish “War State” declared in 1982 (against Solidarity upheaval) – with main point of taking all media and make an emotional speech to the Nation on TV channels (under FSB supervision) explaining the danger from V-th column which must be tackle NOW, as the Russian existence is at stake NOW. Fedorov depicted the strength of V-th column so poignantly and clear as to be seen by blinded or brainwashed alike even.
I think this change should be done in few days. Rather urgent matter.
Now that the Boston bombers are identified as having connections to Chechnya that no doubt the media will down play, say they are Kadyrov agents or claim they have been radicalised by Russian brutality can we finally start seriously talking about US and western support for Chechen jihadists that Russian commentators yourself included.
Just look at my posting on the Underground Serbian Café from 2008 onwards
Here is an old Colbert Report on the issue.
The Boston bombing even turned out to be a false flag. The link jumps directly to the most important part of the video:
It’s good that Alex Jones warns young people not letting themselves be lured by CIA ads.
Had heard the name in passing but never checked him out before. Think I heard of him in regards to the hard-right nationalist movement a few years back, much of which didn’t impress me because of the racist element.
As you pointed out, Starikov is a lot more interesting than that & obviously has a lot of depth to him – a more radical version of anti “Atlantic integrationist” who will obviously resonate with a lot of Russians.
Will be following with interest.
@KenM:the hard-right nationalist movement a few years back, much of which didn’t impress me because of the racist element.
Again, your instincts are good. The racist parties/movements in Russia in reality have extremely little popular support and, in fact, some real patriots investigated the most extreme “Russian” “nationalist” (notice the two quotation marks) websites and they found out that they were run either from Canada or from Israel. Interesting, no?
During the Eltsin years, some ultra-nationalists were also quietly sponsored by the Kremlin just to show the world that should the pro-Western regime of Eltsin fall, Russian “Hitlers” would come to power.
The reality is that racism has VERY little traction in Russia. Yes, there are some totally crazed racists in Russia, and yes, they have killed totally innocent people, and yes they spew their sick patho-psychology on the Internet, but no – they have quasi zero popular support. In fact, *ALL* the patriotic organizations I know of are openly anti-racist and strongly reject the racist arguments regularly aired by the small groups.
This is not because Russians are in any way better/kinder/smarter than anybody else. Its because Russia has always been multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and there is not such thing as an “ethnically pure” Russian. Russian can engage in sick/repulsive ideologies as much as any other people, but racism is just not one of them.
So yes, keep on dismissing any so-called “patriots” who have racist elements – they are mostly foreign agents (whether they know that or not).
Really good post and info..I came across this article on Foreign affairs that fits this writing of you..and I would like your info wether or not that Navalny by exposing the fraud and labeling of the pro-Kremlin United Russia as the “party of crooks and thieves” that is also making Putin to get away from United Russia? and why you did not mentioned Navalny on your writing, given the fact that he doesn’t have the money and power but he gained a lot of attention on the last election? and how do you see the future of Navalny on the politic?
@Anonymous: the reason I did not mention Navalnyi is that I consider him irrelevant, really. The USA is desperately trying to find some figure to play the “persecuted dissident” like they had during the Cold War, but nowadays the world has changed a lot and all they get are non-entities like Sobchak, Nemtsov, Chirikova or Navalnyi. The only attention he gets if from the US Embassy in Moscow and from the folks which are paid to travel to is court hearing. This entire circus has no reality outside the heads of the few diplomats and intelligence agents who are trying to find some lever to destabilize Russia. But if, in the past, the West could use such giants as the Father of the Soviet Thermonuclear Bomb like Sakharov or the Nobel Prize Winner Solzhenitsyn, today they are stuck with mediocre little non-entities which will deflate as fast as Hannah Montana did on MTV.
The guy has zero future, you can forget about him.
As long as they keep Sergei Lavrov as FM, the rest can change for my money.
After the 2011 desatrous UNSC vote regarding “no-fly” over Libya, Medvedev should have been impeached and put on trial as the enemy from within. Now he leads the goverment…
I think, before any conclusion can be drawn from this, it would be helpful to know more of the background of the writer.
Is he an “opposition” figure? does he have an axe to grind. How valid and believable are his statements, which he seems not to back up.
Who can have a problem with the video of Putins’ words. In my opinion, as one who has had to get others to work well and professionally on behalf of those they claim to want to help, I’ve had to say much the same sort of thing.
And how can he claim that Putin is using a monied power base he has constructed, in light of the recent statement that he will NOT be asked if his picture can be used by the party that he came to power with!! That they have selected 5 others, partly to protect Putin as they are afraid they may not have the numbers!!
To suggest Putin is in power because he has manipulated the power structure when he has such an immense approval rating from the people, recorded by every rating agency used – sorry, it seems to me as though this has been written by someone with a political grudge against Putin and Medvedev (who, incidentally, will be endorsing his support for the United Russia party).