Potemkin Stability

Paul Goble has summarized an important argument by Olesya Yakhno published on Vlasti.net with regard to the increasingly tenuous illusion of stability in the wake of violent race riots at the walls of the Kremlin. It’s these perceptions and presumptions of what Russia is and isn’t, as argued in an upcoming RA op/ed next week, that have led relations with the West to their current, disastrous myopia. At the very least, Yakhno has a point in that neither Putin nor Medvedev have yet displayed a very good understanding of the ultra-nationalism currently being uncorked in the society.

In their assessments, the Vlasti.net commentator says, “neither from Medvedev nor from Putin did we hear about the extent of the problem.” Instead, they talked about “hooliganism, extremism, and nationalism,” suggesting that they retain their “faith in the all-powerfulness of administrative and force solutions.”

During his direct line talk, Putin manifested “all the themes and style of Russia of the period of the beginning of the 2000s, talking about Khodorkovsky and accusing Nemtsov, Ryzhkov and so on. He said little about more recent problems and “almost nothing” about what was behind the Manezh violence.

Medvedev in his turn also ignored the Russian present by speaking “from the point of view of the future,” about how the system can be modernized via the efforts of the state rather than any discussion of the genuine involvement of the Russian people in solving the problems their country faces.

By talking in these ways, both members of the tandem worked hard to preserve “the very largest Potemkin Village,” the one that suggests “Russian political stability” exists. But in fact, Yakhno concludes, “Russia today is unstable and unpredictable,” and it is “already that way today.”