Putin’s willingness to resort to police batons has polarized society and radicalized those who are dissatisfied with his rule. The moral cause of those taking to the streets across Russia is undermining the foundations of the Putin regime.
The system is consuming itself, with each part of it trying to survive separately at the expense of its neighbor. In this situation, society is a hostage of the battle for survival, and an expendable component in political experiments.
Any internal political activity is becoming conclusively geopoliticized. Elections in Belarus or Russia, for example, are not an expression of feedback between the public and the government, but an act of defensive foreign policy.
Each new wave of Russian protests since 2011—whether political or initially depoliticized (over landfills, housing development projects and so on)—is at heart prompted by an insult to people’s dignity.
In appointing LDPR deputy Degtyarev as the new governor of Khabarovsk, Putin is not promoting one of his own men, but making the LDPR responsible for extinguishing the fire of discontent raging in the region.
Putin’s attempt to renew his mandate in the July 1 constitutional plebiscite is a challenge to those who surround him and a rejection of Russia’s changing reality. Essentially, he is banning his associates from looking around for a successor and from discussing their own future.
Russia is rapidly approaching a situation in which the public will lose the right to decide anything once and for all, because the authorities simply have no remaining political will or the resources to persuade the people.
Two key mobilizing events—the vote to change the constitution and the Victory Day parade—were supposed to force Russians to temporarily forget about their low incomes and stagnating GDP. The pandemic meant they had to be postponed. Now—as lockdown measures are lifted—the Kremlin is trying to return to the scenario of rallying around the flag.