July 21, 2015

The Phenomenon of the New Russian Authoritarianism, or What “the Ruler of 89 % of Russians' Minds” Worries about”

The latest “initiatives” of the Master of the Kremlin and his supporters in power in Russia, regarding the combined forces of separatists and Russian troops' being ready for a new offensive in the Donbas, blackmailing Europe with reorientation of the gas trade to China, revision of the events of 1954 and 1991 that changed the borders and recognized independence of former Soviet republics, attempts to flirt with Washington, as well as the failure of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum — have become another evidence of the vulnerability of the Russian Federation as a state, as the economy with a claim to membership in the club of the highly developed, as a foreign policy and military player claiming to be influential, as a society with the waning imperial-slave mentality, which Russia is trying to impose on its neighbors and the whole world. Confirmation of unprofessionalism of the Kremlin officials' approaches and the failure of Moscow's policy, based on force.

At the same time, the Kremlin leaders' such “multi-vector” statements confirm the rightness of conclusions about Putin and his apologists' continuing seeking new ideologemes for the external (especially anti-sanction aspirations) and internal (in support of the regime and isolationist policy) use. Among them — the “nuclear” (with 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles) and “gas” blackmailing (with China), the proposed by the Kremlin administration “bringing nearer” (from December to October 2016) of the Duma elections, A. Kudrin's “initiative” of “early” re-election of the President of the Russian Federation according to the Kazakh scenario, which should guarantee (Sic!) V. Putin's further rule.

Competent observers of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum paid attention to the fact that, despite the support of the leaders of some Western companies that arrived in the northern capital of Russia (contrary to their governments' demands), Putin looked sooner as desperate than confident in the possibility to get out with dignity from the confrontation with the West. That is why, according to our insiders, it was in St. Petersburg that allegedly “Kudrin's” formula of rescuing the regime was launched, designed to take advantage of the peak of the “absolute” support of the population, to insure against the possibility of health problems of the state's leader, and the growing, so far hidden, discontent of the Russian political and business elite with the current status of the country. Of the country, cut off from the civilized world, with locked loans; of the country that has circled the wagons. Of the country not able to provide proper conditions for doing business and a good life for their children, “suffering abroad” from ostracism from the international community.

Not indulging in an in-depth analysis of the macroeconomic situation in the Russian Federation, let's look at one of the most painful for the Russian industry, Russian elite and the Russians themselves trends — at the massive outflow of the capital from Russia, which within 5 months made 54 billion US dollars. In the face of the increasing international isolation of the country, preservation of Western sanctions and oil prices (on which, by the way, Moscow has no possibility to influence), even the Central Bank of the Russian Federation predicts that the outflow of the capital by the end of the year will be about 90 billion US dollars, and Putin's main economist A. Kudrin — predicts the “fall in GDP by 4 %, and it is not over yet”. According to the regulator's previous estimation, last year 151.5 billion US dollars were withdrawn from Russia. Actually, two and a half times as much as a year earlier (61 billion US dollars).

Gas pipelines “Power of Siberia”The widely publicized by the Kremlin propagandists thousands-kilometers-long gas pipelines “Power of Siberia” and “Altai”, which have been actually declined by Beijing, have no market prospects either. Besides, Chinese banks and financial institutions categorically deny loans to Russian companies. Do not forget about the factor of “Krymnash” (Crimea Is Ours), which turns for Russians and the federal budget into “Krymdash” (Give to the Crimea) with billions in spending to ensure the existence of a “federal district” and creation of the connecting infrastructure through the Kerch Strait.

Gas pipelines “Altai”The continued EU's sanctions against Russia are a big failure for Putin. Moreover, if the President of the Russian Federation continues the confrontation with Ukraine, Moldova and the Baltic states, he may get a new military-political reality, against which he is constantly protesting — NATO's coming nearer and staying on the borders with Russia. It is clear that Moscow, or V. Putin, to be exact, overestimated his strength. This was expressed quite comprehensively and professionally by the leader of the well-informed organization Stratfor, George Friedman. The head of the US intelligence-analytical company stresses that Russia has failed to convert its oil and gas riches into a sustainable economy, its national budget depends on energy carriers prices in the situation where Europe, China and other rising economies have found alternative sources of getting energy carriers, and the tank potential of the Russian army, in case of offensive in Ukraine, can be neutralized by the US Air Force.

The expert predicts that there will be no war, but there will be a significant level of tension

According to G. Friedman, these and other (American, German, European Union's, Chinese) constraints make V. Putin stick to the wait-and-see strategy — the Kremlin, most likely, “... will wait for the crisis in Kyiv, when the government there fails, then will try to influence Kyiv”. The expert predicts that there will be no war, but there will be a significant level of tension and non-military confrontation (information-propaganda, economic, sabotage and terrorism, etc.) and the Kremlin's waiting for the Ukrainian potential domestic conflicts that would give Putin's confidents a chance to split the elite and the country.

However, a significant part of analysts are afraid of the old Russian tradition of solving domestic problems or neutralizing the threat of loss of Russia's influence by unleashing military conflicts, starting with the attack on Finland in the Second World War, the invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the last century, the two Chechen wars and the permanent “counter-terrorist” operation in the North Caucasus, the annexation of the territories of Georgia and Ukraine — in the 21st century. Therefore, the United States in the new national military strategy have recognized Russia as a country undermining regional security both, by its own forces and with the help of its puppets-stooges.

the United States in the new national military strategy have recognized Russia as a country undermining regional security

After the failure in the eyes of the West of the Kremlin's demonstrative attempts to join actively in the solution of the Syrian and Iranian issues and counter-acting terrorists of the “Islamic State,” Russia can resort to strengthening its military pressure on Ukraine. Based on the Kremlin's logic, as rightly considers a political columnist for the “Day” Ju. Reichel, another attack in the Donbas is just needed to confirm Moscow's position, because it is very important for it to build a linear dependence, when continuation/strengthening of sanctions by the EU, United States and other countries will result in escalation in Ukraine and “freezing” of the conflict. But here, V. Putin was betrayed by his “faithful ally Serge Sargsyan,” with his “very untimely “ElektroMaydan”: Moscow must now consider the possibility of adverse developments in Armenia (and not in Armenia alone!), and this seriously limits its possibilities in the Donbas.

Of course, all the above-said will make the President of the Russian Federation more cautious, pragmatic and even more agreeable. However, when calculating the limit of “compression of the Russian spring” it is important not to ignore the following: the phenomenon of the new Russian authoritarianism, which for 15 years has been systematically implemented by V. Putin and his team; the Kremlin's “progress” in the formation of “odobryam (We agree) (89 %!), the herd-like and zombified” public opinion; the latest isolationist psychosis in the Moscow government offices; the absence of an influential (after the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky's emigration, A. Lebedev and A. Navalny's political “reorientation”) and effective (the latest mass protests against the regime took place in the distant December 2011 and May 2012) opposition and fears of “remnants” of Russian liberals about a possible coup in the Kremlin and “liberal Putin”'s being replaced by a representative of the “iron law enforcers.”