Translated by Gideon

People never cease to amaze me. For example, many Russians sincerely believe that different types of Russians live in the Crimea, in Donbass, Odessa and Kharkov because the Crimea is now Russia, because in Donbass there is war and because Kharkov and Odessa are still occupied and under repression. We might just as well argue that citizens of Moscow are 1.5 times better than citizens of Volgograd, two times better than citizens of Kursk and three times better than citizens of Kharkov and Rostov-on-the-Don, because during the Second World War the Germans captured Kharkov and Rostov 3 times, Kursk once, while they Stalingrad never fully occupied, and never even entered Moscow. Of course, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is populated by traitors, which, while our country was fighting, sat safely well behind the front lines.

О тех, кто «сливает» Новороссию

This is not an exaggeration, this seems to be the view shared by the average Russian citizen concerning the current events destabilising the world and country today. However, this phenomenon does not apply only to Russia. In Ukraine, President Putin has consistently won when sociologists asked the question: “Who would you vote for, if foreign politicians could run alongside Ukrainian ones in the presidential elections in Ukraine? ” In addition, if in Russia Putin’s rating has risen to 80-85% after the return of the Crimea, in Ukraine, he won in the first round with 75-80%of the votes in these hypothetical elections every year for five consecutive years. Moreover, I recently spoke with a sociologist friend, who still carried out these surveys without publishing the results, and he claims that in 2014 Putin still won the hypothetical Ukrainian elections in the first round, with his approval rating hardly touched. We do acknowledge that about half of Ukrainian citizens sincerely believe that the country is at war with Russia, and “bloody Putin” unleashed that war.

Furthermore, Ukraine is not simply at war. That war is seen by the European-oriented part of the population as a fight for Democracy against Totalitarianism and for all that is good against everything that is bad. Additionally, Putin personally becomes the embodiment of “Russian totalitarianism” and everything bad. And yet Ukrainian ‘Democrats’ are willing to vote for none other but Putin as their president.

The Russian social network fraternity often makes fun of their euro-obsessed Ukrainian compatriots, rightly arguing that the latter have attributed to Putin truly divine features. Without his personal intervention nothing would be happening either in, or around Ukraine. However, no one seems to have noticed that the Russian mass consciousness is also undergoing a similar process, but here we also see a further division of this mass consciousness.

On the one hand, Putin is perceived as a man who can accomplish anything. For example, he can put the U.S. in its place with one twitch of his eyebrows , put an end to the Ukrainian crisis, chase the Islamic state out of Syria and Iraq and create heaven on earth before breakfast. But for some reason, he just doesn’t seem to want to do that. As a result, hundreds of bloggers start giving him friendly advice of this sort: “Come on, Vladimir Vladimirovich, just strangle the enemy”.

And then there is a parallel legend, according to which there is a “fifth column” of liberals in the government, the oligarchs who have been unleashed by Putin, the Rockefellers, the Morgans, the ubiquitous Rothschilds, the Masons and the World Zionist conspiracy and all the assorted forces of evil. The very forces, to whom Putin swore an oath of allegiance in a previous life, are not allowing the Russian people and their true defenders to irrevocably defeat the American Reich in its own lair, and for that are doing everything to destroy invincible Donbass.

In this version, Putin is at war with himself, and the only reason that the US has yet to devour Russia is because it hasn’t, like the Gogol’ character Viiy, been raised its eyelids, but that is about to happen.

The only guy tougher than Putin is Surkov. Surkov is consistent. In all versions, he schemes to betray Donbass and then destroy Putin and Russia. In order to achieve this, he has forced Putin to sign the Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 agreements. He also squeezed out of Donbass one wannabe “field marshal” who has been telling for a year now how everything is collapsing without his presence. Surkov has appointed his minions everywhere in Donbass that have stolen everything, took all imaginable bribes, and are now surrendering Donbass. Haven’t been able to accomplish that in a year, but every public speech of the “field marshal” ends with the statement that sooner or later cunning Surkov will get his own way.

Occasionally, it must be acknowledged that these local flunkies in power in Donbass refuse to surrender Donbass. However, Surkov’s omnipotence remains undiminished.

This version, incidentally, does not require Putin’s presence. He is redundant to that scheme. One is forced to explain his activities while Surkov intrigues. But who would pay attention? The phrase “Surkov has deceived Putin” encapsulates the narrative. People don’t occupy themselves with what the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is for, or the Foreign Intelligence Service, or even Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU), which the Ukrainian Security Service is always dreaming about. What are these security services doing, and how is it possible that one assistant can so manifestly deceive the president, who, in every one of his public engagements displays remarkable awareness of what is happening in the country, the world and the immediate vicinity of the solar system? Is Putin not allowed to receive reports from Ivanov, Medvedev, Fratkov and Bortnikov? Or has Surkov deceived them as well?

I can dream up hundreds of these narratives. Can someone, please, explain to me why people who are able to design spacecraft, build bridges, solve complex equations, cure diseases, teach simultaneously 30 children, when the majority are unable to deal with one or two, would then get lost in broad daylight, voluntarily suppress all rational thought and blindly accept the maddest conspiracy theory to explain the political situation.

Why would not the Ukrainians admit that if they are prepared to elect Putin as their president (even with the sole motivation that he is an efficient manager), then surely that means that they are voting for a Russian system? Does it not mean that life in Russia is better, and, therefore, it is not Russia they are fighting with but rather with their own complexes?

The Russians really should reflect on this: The Crimea, which received Russian citizenship in 2014 only differs from the drowned in blood Donbass insofar as the Russian Navy is based there. If it had been the other way around, Donbass would have been in Russia now, and the Crimean people likely would then have been fighting at the Perekop or, perhaps, would have been repressed, as Odessa and Kharkov have been.

Why don’t both those seekers of hidden agendas and those looking for simple explanations who cannot understand why Putin did not simply put his foot down and send in the armed forces to sort this all out recall that in 2000 Putin became president of a country huge in size but much smaller in political influence? This country was quite comparable to Ukraine under Kuchma. At that time both were co-sponsors of the peace process in Transnistria, and Ukraine, at that time, actively participated in conflict resolution in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

After only fifteen years, Ukraine is falling apart before our eyes, consumed in the fire of the civil war, and Putin is now running a superpower. Let’s be clear here: the term superpower is now unchallenged when applied to Russia. Only five years ago, the term superpower was not so much debated as ridiculed, with even certain Russian diplomats disclaiming the term. Could that possibly be that Putin is better versed in politics than those wise bloggers and great generals, as well as their knowing all and then some readers and followers, every one of which is, if not exactly Aristotle, then at least Alexander the Great?

Perhaps, simple conclusion is warranted that if a team has been effectively working for 15 years with periodic turnover, yet with preservation of the team dynamics, then Surkov is just as much a team player as others and has limited room for manoeuvre. Exclusively within his job description. And if today he is occupied with affairs of Ukraine that does not mean that nobody else is.

I am far from thinking that those on that team are all fond of each other. Moreover, I am convinced that some members of the team are not the best of friends, to put it mildly. However, our expectations of them are not ‘family harmony’ but political success. Let a person who is willing to say that this arrangement is ineffectual cast the first stone at me.

I remind the doubters that in the years 1989-1991 the entire audience of the show “Look” and reader of the journal “Twinkle” understood the mistakes of the past and how to build the bright future. But from that “knowledge” sprung “rakish 1990s”, which many did not survive, and those who did still are unable to comprehend how they managed to do that, and how the country endured.

That is why we should not blindly trust next tribunes that know everything in advance. Yeltsin was such tribune and was considered infallible by many. It is sufficient to ask straightforward questions and give logically plausible answers.

Most importantly, do not think that if the first Minsk agreement [Minsk 1] was deemed stillborn by half of the commentators and that 99% described Minsk 2 in the same terms, then Putin did not understand things obvious to any individual interested in politics.

If Surkov really holds responsibility for Ukraine, and Ukraine, for over a year, is unequivocally moving towards a war, then this is certainly not against his will. If he had fought for peace at any price (even at the price of disgrace), then there would have already been a shameful peace, or he would have been removed.

Life is not a Hollywood thriller with a complex plot in which evil is omnipresent and insidious. The variety of personal wills, interests and aspirations of those who hold influence can render political decisions fairly predictable. Victory is based on deeper understanding of the wider range of possibilities and on finding the course of actions, which, for the opponent, is unexpected.

That is what the Russian government does brilliantly. This is, of course, far from nice that it does not share its plans with the public. However, we all remember what old man Mueller played by Bronevoy in “17 Moments of Spring” said: “If two people know, even the pig is aware”. In conclusion, it’s better let our people worry a little than let our overseas “friends and partners” be forewarned of our responses to all their mean acts.

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