Grigory Pasko on Russia’s Love for the Kremlin


Recently someone left a comment on one of my blog entries, prompting me to respond to address two questions:  “Why do many Russians love the power? Under what circumstances might the Putinite siloviki ever go down?

First let’s take a look at what some other Russians have to say about this:

Political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky:  “In a closed society, such as today’s Russian one is, and in conditions of the complete depoliticization of the Russian population, which the ruling elite has been striving for for the duration of the last 15 years, – we recall that already at the beginning of the 90s the idea had become popular that the people need to be eliminated from politics and then the country will start to live well, – everybody should concern himself only with his own pocket, porch and vegetable garden, but not with political processes. The rating [the high rating of the power and of Putin–G.P.] reflects only one thing: the extent of the indifference of the population of the country to who rules it. ..Therefore Putin’s rating – this is a very conditional number, which does not speak about the real political support of today’s power on the part of the population of the country.”

Politician Boris Nemtsov:  “We are an ideological opposition. An opposition of ideas, a spiritual opposition to Putin. He considers that Russia – is a half-finished, Asiatic country, one that hasn’t yet matured enough for democracy, that our people – are cattle. This is why he doesn’t need freedom, elections, honest courts. That’s how he sees it. He’s got a deeply contemptuous attitude towards the people. By the way, there’s a paradox in this: he despises and fears the people, but the people love him. This often happens in families where there isn’t mutual love. Some love, while another allows them to love him. Although to love a power – that’s perverted. You can love children, mother, women, father… But towards power you can have an attitude of trust-distrust.”

Former advisor to the president of the RF Andrei Illarionov: “Our opposition is weak. This must be acknowledged. The main reason for this – is on the whole in Russian society. Over the past 20 years – and this must be acknowledged – the most urgent needs of people have been satisfied. The launch of a market economy helped to solve one of the most acute problems – ensuring a standard of living higher than 20 years ago. A significant part of the people was able to find a niche in the economy for itself and its close ones. This was accompanied by a certain level of dynamism. Many people began to feel an increase in the level of consumption. This removed one powerful bloc of irritation, including of political problems in the country. It was not today’s power that solved these problems – this was done by another power – but it makes use of the unique baggage of the predecessors. And exploits Russian society – one of the most individualistic in the world – for its purposes. Our society is little inclined towards cooperative behavior, towards the solving of problems without an intermediary in the person of the state power.”

Personally, from these opinions one can already glean some of the reasons why the Russian people (or, more precisely, a part of them) have a positive attitude towards the power in the person of Putin and his siloviki.
With regard to the circumstances which would be necessary to bring about a downfall of the siloviki, there are also a good many opinions. I think that one universal answer or one universal reason for which the history of Russia will consign Putin and his partners in crime “to the archive” does not exist. Not yet. 
But you may not have to wait long.  Putin and his friends are cultivating the prerequisites for their political demise on their own: through their feckless foreign and domestic policy; their inability and unwillingness to solve economic problems (it is much simpler for them to stuff their pockets with money from the sale of the country’s raw-materials reserves than to modernize production) – by all this they are bringing their demise ever closer. Of course, this can go on for a long time still in consideration of the fact that there is practically nobody to push today’s power towards removal: the opposition is weak, while the people, for now, are living tolerably all in all (I have in mind the people beyond the confines of Moscow and Petersburg – there people live quite well indeed by Russian measures). But such a situation can not go on for an endlessly long time.