The narcissistic power Grigory Pasko, journalist (Если Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда. Read this in Russian.) Not so very long ago in Stockholm I observed the following picture. A helicopter was hovering in the air above the area of the royal palace and parliament. The driveway to one of the royal mansions was blocked off by police on motorcycles. Half an hour later – that’s exactly how long I was gone from this area – there were absolutely no traffic restrictions remaining by the mansion. Let me emphasize: by the mansion, because everywhere else in the city, traffic was being implemented in the normal regime. I had also had the opportunity to be in Washington during the time of the second inauguration of G. Bush, Jr. The center of the capital was blocked off, but not for long. And the traffic didn’t stop in the entire city. A great many such examples from the practice of the actions of the organizers of particularly important events with the participation of the leaders of countries can be cited. And only Russia (well, okay, maybe North Korea as well) differs here from the rest of the world.
Here is a typical announcement in the mass media on the eve of the entry to the post of the new president of Russia: “Movement of auto transport along a series of central streets of Moscow will be restricted for the time of the events associated with ensuring order in the period of the conducting of the inauguration of president of the RF Dmitry Medvedev… (this is followed by a recitation of the list of all the streets, alleys, squares, and approach roads). The GIBDD [State Inspectorate for the Safety of Road Traffic] of Moscow asks drivers in advance to choose bypass routes, strictly carry out the demands and indications of employees of the DPS [Highway Patrol Service] and not park cars on the indicated streets. Traffic in Moscow will likewise be significantly restricted on 9 May – on the Day of Victory, as well as from 7 through 11 and 13 May on certain streets of the city in connection with the conducting of the ‘Five rings of Moscow’ competitions of velosport.”Photo of Moscow’s snarled traffic jams (online source)Much was also written about how the training sessions for the military parade, resurrected by the Putinomedvedevs after 18 years, were going. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, planes, missile launchers… Normal people have already forgotten about all this flashy showing off of the past. But narcissistic presidents (of whom, it seems, there will remain two after the inauguration) have resurrected this all-flash-and-no-substance parade, this empty blowing of soap bubbles. Why do I say “all flash and no substance”? Simple. Because the hardware being paraded at the parade is in reality nowhere to be found in the inventory of the Russian army, if we don’t count a few isolated individual pieces.Besides the blocking off of streets (and in Moscow, automobile traffic is ridiculously hard as it is, even without this) for the time of the inauguration and parade, it has been decided to disperse the clouds over Moscow. This is done with the help of special aviation, which seeds chemical reagents in the clouds. During the course of 24 hours, the sun will shine over Moscow, while someplace in Vladimir Oblast, the skies will let loose a deluge of poisonous precipitation in the form of rain containing these same chemical reagents.Who has calculated the losses that are incurred from the blocking off of the roads? Nobody. Because this concerns the ordinary people, and not narcissistic presidents. Who has calculated the losses that are incurred from the chemical reagents? Nobody. Because they did not fall on “Rublevka” [Rublevskoye chaussé, where all the big-shots live—Trans.] and the residences of narcissistic presidents.According to the testimony of one of the Moscow newspapers, to prepare for the military parade and to clean up the city and bring it back to normal afterwards – including replacing the asphalt after all the heavy military hardware has torn up the streets while being driven through Moscow – will require one billion three hundred million rubles (this is approximately 35 mln. euros). For this money in Moscow you could build 25 standard-issue pre-school day care centers with swimming pools. Or 10 highway interchanges. Or garages for 130 thousand automobiles. The capital of Russia suffers from a catastrophic shortage of day care centers, highway interchanges, and garages. But the ambitions of two small men have turned out to be worth more than the needs of ordinary Russians.In the meantime, both of them – both Putin and Medvedev – in their speeches during the time of the inauguration spoke precisely about the needs of ordinary Russians, about how they are concerned about them and will continue to be concerned for “another 20, another 30 years” (That’s exactly what Putin said: we need “to set now [large-]scale tasks for 20-30 years ahead”. In so doing, he for some reason seemed flustered, several times faltering and having to glance down at a piece of paper).On the day of the inauguration, policemen in formal dress uniforms roamed throughout the center of Moscow – more than half a thousand people. In the opinion of the chiefs, this was supposed to evoke in Muscovites and guests of the capital a festive mood. I will note: Russians have already for a long time regarded the police as simply a variant species of gangsters. Therefore, one can imagine just what kind of a mood these herds of police in white shirts evoked in them.In the meantime, on the eve, Dmitry Medvedev obtained in the building of the Central Electoral Commission an ID card of the president of Russia. He obtained it without fanfare and “behind the scenes”, just like he’d obtained the post itself: no doubt the question of the succession was decided by Putin with Medvedev just as quietly and just as “behind the scenes”. While all the props for the theatrical performance – that is, the “nationwide elections”, in the form of pre-election posters and speeches – came later already, as a nod to the circumstances, concocted by these very same narcissistic small men.It is noteworthy that the majority of the people watched all this silently and patiently. On the eve of the inauguration, even the one lonely rally-march of dissenters was broken up by the Moscow bosses with the help of those same festively-attired police so beloved of the chiefs.Because of the restrictions introduced, Moscow practically immediately was seized by a transport collapse. People stood in traffic jams for 3-4 hours. And this despite the fact that in these days, many Muscovites, having taken a vacation, are found at the dacha and not in the city.The inauguration itself most resembled a tawdry picture from a film by that famous singer of the praises of the power, the director Nikita Mikhalkov, «The Barber of Siberia» – in it, tsar Alexander III is riding around the Kremlin on a horse surrounded by soldiers and generals all dressed up in bright colors. Just as brightly dressed were the military who were looming in the Kremlin on 7 May and who will loom all over Moscow on the Day of Victory as well: the Russian army, instead of new military hardware and new filling with content of the long, drawn-out process of reform, has gotten itself new uniforms.The passion of small men for brightly colored all-flash-and-no-substance uniforms has been known for a long time. As well as for playing with soldiers, parades, cannons and tanks… With the help of this entourage, men who are short in stature and feeble in spirit, as a rule, try to at least somehow rise up in this life.And there is nobody in the Russian state in the retinue of these little men who, like that little boy in the fairy tale, would say: “But the king has no clothes!”Russia is different from the rest of the world in this as well: it’s got two kings-with-no-clothes at once!The proclaimed kings – Putin, who has stepped off to the side, but not very far at all, just around the corner; and Medvedev, who has stepped up to hold the steering wheel in his place – made speeches which contained the standard set of stock phrases. Thus, the new-sprung one promised: “I am in full measure cognizant of how much still remains to be done, for the state to be truly just toward citizens… Everything has been done so that the state would not simply guarantee, but would also in reality ensure, the safety of citizens.”I recall that Putin in his time promised the people a dictatorship of the law. But instead of this, the people, as always, got nothing but sheer lawlessness. I am confident: it will be the same under Medvedev. He just looks way too much like his elder comrade. Even in the way he walked down the red carpet during the time of the inauguration.