Published: August 12, 2005 (Issue # 1095)
It is already obvious that the second half of 2005 will unfold under the banner of bustling faux modernization. And we have only the Kremlin’s enemies to thank for this wide-ranging imitation.
If the Orange Revolution hadn’t happened in Ukraine, the Kremlin would never have set up a way to pass on power to an anointed successor. It would never have set up the youth organization Nashi and would never have started talking about vertical social mobility or handing power over to the next generation. If Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych had won, the wise Kremlin specialists would have floated above an unseen political void, convinced that the main focal point of politics was tallying up the votes just right, the way Central Election Commission head Alexander Veshnyakov does, and that everything else — ideas, leaders, strategies and parties — was a big waste of time and money.
Now, under the influence of the unexpected popular protests against benefits reform this January, the electoral success of the left in many regions and even the political musings of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Kremlin has decided to make a swift move to the left. President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric will likely change by early fall. He will talk about justice and the priorities of Russia’s 140 million citizens. A new crop of buffoonish organizations will be sown, and parties made irrelevant by their previous pointlessness will be thrown into the PR fray, from the Patriots of Russia to the social democrats.
The widely despised Social Development and Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov may fall victim to this leftward shift, along with one or two other federal officials who had long wanted to work in the private sector anyway. Finally and most importantly, the sacred inviolability of the stabilization fund will finally be destroyed. In general, the Kremlin will attempt to demonstrate that it is the country’s only real leftist.
The Putin administration might even try staging a pseudo-revolution in typical Kremlin fashion. For example, Zurabov could leave his post kicking and screaming, dragged out of the ministry after a three-day standoff with Nashi’s “antifascist” soccer hooligans.
Naturally, none of this will mean a real change in policy. The Putin regime’s goals exclude any real changes, no matter how good, out of principle.
Many big-name Kremlinologists in Russia and elsewhere are tirelessly reproducing the myth that Putin heads a chekist regime of authoritarian modernization that wants to destroy all vestiges of Boris Yeltsin’s rule, as the few remaining liberals in power try to resist their bloodthirsty schemes. Until this myth is debunked, we will not be able to grasp the logic of Putin’s actions.Pages:  [2 ]