By: Victor Loupan, Head of Editorial Board
It seems that they want to make a Nightingale the Robber of Russia – whatever it does, it fails to satisfy
There was a funny anecdote related to Nightingale the Robber who was always complaining of Ilya Muromets about punishment, no matter how he conducted himself or whatever he did, it seemed: ‘You are sitting wrong, you are whistling wrong!’ Well, it appears to me that they want to make a Nightingale the Robber of Russia. – Whatever it does, it fails to satisfy. But I am afraid, for all the good it will do anyone, that Russia itself is Ilya Muromets!
The latest example of this is sensational. I am referring to the recent Duma elections. Supposedly, everything went better than ever, violations were minor. Yes, it’s true, over half of the voters preferred to spend their time in the country and failed to appear at the polling stations. But this is an aspect of civilization and democracy which also happens in the West. The ruling party did not win 90% of the votes but only 50%. And the OSCE observers, it seemed, were satisfied… well, almost. Can you guess the problem? It was that Crimean residents participated in the elections. Yes, it appears that Crimea is not a part of Russia, and that is why they shouldn’t vote. And this in spite of the people’s declaration that they want to vote, and in spite of history and so on.
It is strange but nothing has changed in politics, especially in international politics, since the nineteenth century. Always and everywhere the balance of forces prevails over law, over democracy and other similar things. Finally, Russia has understood this. Because it is fed up with permanently being reproached for ‘sitting wrong and whistling wrong’. For years since the inglorious dissolution of the USSR, Russia was trying to ‘fit’, it was aligning itself with the West, especially the USA, in the hope that it would be loved, it would be given a pat on the head, and would be helped to stand on its own two feet. But the opposite has been the case.
Since the Yeltsin period, and even since Gorbachev, a lot of things have changed: not only have Russia’s spirits lifted but the West has become considerably weaker. Since the days of the inept government of George Bush junior, the USA has become bogged down in manifestly uncontrollable conflicts, and two terms of Obama’s presidency has amplified all the existing controversies without having resolved a single one. The European Union, which supposedly needs Russia’s support, and still acts like its major business partner, has wallowed in a never-ending chain of downfalls which are paralyzing its will, and it blindly links itself to the USA. It should be noted: the more it acts this way, the worse things are. We have already commented a lot on the nonsense of the anti-Russian sanctions, so we will not discuss them again. Their ineffectuality has been commented on enough in the West. But let us note that in terms of foreign policy Russia’s position on the international stage has strengthened during the period of the sanctions. It’s true when they say that every cloud has a silver lining!
Well, let us consider the elections again. According to the Levada-Center, 15-20% of the adult population of Russia are, let’s say, liberal-minded. In principle, they are people for whom the values and criteria of Western liberalism are acceptable and even desirable for Russia. There is little harm in this. A position is a position. And this is absolutely legitimate. But why then did the liberal parties, Yabloko and Parnas, together earn less than 3% of the votes? It is strange mathematically. But sociology is not an exact science, even if it includes a mathematical approach. And there is nothing paradoxical here from a sociological standpoint. This is a very simple answer that is “Crimea”. Yabloko and Parnas believe that ‘the Crimea is not ours!’ This is not just an unsupported assertion by me. The epoch-making leader and ideologist of post-Soviet Russian liberalism, Grigory Yavlinsky, asked the Kiev regime (I intentionally avoid the word ‘junta’) to allow for the provision of election campaigning in Crimea. He received a resounding refusal. And now, even the overwhelming majority of truly liberal-minded Russians consider Crimea to be Russian and suggest that sovereignty and unity of government is the priority and that adherence to an ideology is secondary. To vote for candidates who represented ‘unacceptable’ ideas was beyond them. That is why the rhetoric of these parties came across as a ‘greeting from a hangover’.
A lot of Russians do not understand the essence of the main principle of democracy. It is the dictatorship of the majority. Putin’s impressive popularity can be satisfactorily explained by the support provided by the population for his national and public policy. People are glad to think that ‘Russia is right’, and that it is wrong to ‘mock’ it. The obvious subjectivity of these definitions does not deprive them of their clarity. People think with their heads but they also feel with their souls and heart.
Everyone knows and understands that the country is suffering from a deep crisis, and life during recent years was getting worse and more complicated. There are some improvements but no one knows when it will get better – and if it will get better.
The West often accuses Putin of a dictatorship over Russian mass media which ‘does propaganda only’. And the Russian people pin their faith in such propaganda, and that that is why they love Putin. 86% of them support Putin! We have to agree that news agencies mostly do propaganda. But not only in Russia! For example, the majority of US mass media promotes the candidacy of Hillary Clinton without exception and it unrestrainedly spatters Donald Trump with filth. However, more and more viewers are challenging Clinton’s success. In France, all the mass media execrate Marine Le Pen and her party, the National Front. But the more they criticize, the more popular she is. In Great Britain, both the major mass media channels and the overwhelming majority of the establishment campaigned against Brexit. But what was the result of it? Brexit had a complete victory! So, no ‘Putin propaganda’ would work effectively without a sure footing. And what if Putin has a forth presidency in his sights? He has, but so does Merkel.
I mean – Russia is ‘sitting right and whistling right’ here and now, and this results in problems. Paradoxically, at first glance, the conservatism of the West consists in that it is not ready to reconsider its paradigms which, for a long time, have not corresponded with reality. It does not want – or is not able – to reconcile with the idea of losing control over a world, over which it has had control for so long. This leads to chaos: to a pointless search for a scape-goat: and a feeling of deep crisis. The President of the European Commission – and the head of the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker, ended his recent report in Bratislava with the following words: ‘Our European Union is […] in an existential crisis!’ ‘Our’ means Europe. And the word ‘existential’ means ‘sense of being’. It is like Nightingale the Robber who also could not learn what, and who, he is…