Groveling ever higher (if such a thing is possible) By Grigory Pasko, journalist Mikhalkov-Tsereteli’s letter has already been discussed by everyone and anyone with the least bit of desire to do so. They have assessed it almost unequivocally: it is a manifestation of groveling before the lord and master, who has appeared to them in Putin. It would seem that after such a letter you could hardly expect yet another, even more impressive kowtow before Putin. Well, to all those who thought so, I must tell you you were wrong. It turns out – you can. It turns out that in the nearest future, a civic movement «For Putin» is going to be formed in Russia (and perhaps even beyond its boundaries, since – as the Russian press assures us – over there, on the other side, Putin’s popularity rating is also soaring off the scale). The founding congress of this movement is set to take place in Tver Oblast [just north of Moscow Oblast on the road to St. Petersburg—Trans.] on 15 November. Gathering there will be representatives of initiative groups from all the regions. It is known that one of the organizers of the movement is a former officer of the KGB (or the FSB, it’s all the same thing), and currently a lawyer, Pavel Astakhov. Astakhov’s claim to fame is that he participated in the “spy” trial of the American Edmond Pope and the Russian scientist Anatoly Babkin and served as counsel to colonel Budanov, who had murdered the Chechen girl Elsa Kungayeva.
Astakhov’s recent voyages throughout the country have imprinted themselves in the memory of the public for his participation in regional rallies in support of Vladimir Putin.The second stage of the creation of the movement, according to mass media reports, will become a forum of supporters of Putin. This is planned to be held in Moscow on 21-22 November. According to the information of the newspaper «Kommersant», coming out as the organizer of the forum will be the party «United Russia». It can not be ruled out that the event will be attended by the president himself. The forum of supporters will become the central event of the pre-election campaign of «United Russia».And so, the campaign to appoint (or is it anoint?) Putin a living deity continues to expand. Judging by the scales of the campaign, Putin himself seems to be liking this. The campaign, it goes without saying, has nothing in common with a mass psychosis, inasmuch as it is no doubt being organized from one single place and reaches the masses through the method of assignment, directions. I think that this takes place concurrently with the disbursal of funding to the “community volunteers”.All of this would be funny (who knows how many mediocrities out there would like to be a god or something like unto a god), if it were not for the fact that one persistent thought keeps being voiced: “we’ve got to change the Constitution to fit Putin”, they keep saying. Astakhov is even more blunt: we, jurists, will be able to find a form that is convenient for this.And they will find one! Not because they’re jurists (the world has had ample opportunity to judge concerning their juridical literacy many a time already), but because the constitution in the country has already been changed multiple times. Because the Russian people – or so it seems – don’t give a damn what the chekists, Putins, and Astakhovs intend to do with them and how.And they’ve just invented a new toy for the people – “national leader”, they call it. Of course, the people don’t immediately start to realize that a leader is not the revealing of a flabby torso on a fishing trip, or the telling of off-color jokes at press conferences, but first and foremost – the real actions of a person who found himself at the pinnacle of power heaven knows how. Wake up, Russians! What leader? Where do you see a leader? Just try to run through the gauntlet of the offices of your local government officials, from the housing board to the road police, with the words “national leader” on your lips; or try to drive on Russia’s roads a mere fifty kilometers outside Moscow; or take a look at how ALL of Russia, and not just Moscow or Peter, is living… I assure you, you’ll have completely different words on your lips then – and probably ones that shouldn’t be printed here.The grovelling toadies are asking Putin in the name of the people to remain the “national leader of the country” and to “actively influence the domestic and foreign policy of the country” after the presidential elections of 2008. It would seem that there’s nothing but Putin’s own pledges not to go for a third term to hold him back from succumbing to the temptation to give in to the “entreaties of the people”.In the name of the entire people, Astakhov said: “The pain of the people, the worry that Putin will leave. Everywhere initiative groups are being created, which sign appeals, offer to create a civic all-Russian movement «For Putin». This is a genuine democratic movement, because it comes from the bottom up, from the people.”All of this just smacks of déja-vu: I recall the Congresses of the CPSU, all the speeches by all the garment workers and cafeteria cooks with pleas for the “national leader” to remain at the helm of power; all the mass rallies with the portraits of the all-people’s beloved… Have you really forgotten that they used to herd us to all these rallies by force? Do you really not remember how we used to laugh at the ailing and tottering Brezhnev, whom all those garment workers and cafeteria cooks had “convinced” to keep on leading the country? Have you really forgotten what checkists are – and that they can never be “former”?All this wailing about the “chosen-ness” of Putin, all those garment workers – we’ve been here already, we’ve been here already, we’ve been here already… We’ve stepped on this rake before. It’s an old propaganda stunt – cheap and vulgar… As old as the aqueduct Mayakovsky one wrote about that had been built “by slaves of Rome”.Maybe that’s the key word in all this – slaves?