Wednesday, July 3, 2019
‘Regional Separatism Now Most Horrifying Threat for Moscow,’ Matveyev Says
Staunton, July 1 – Over the last six months, Pavel Matveyev says, not only has the worst not happened but there are signs of real improvement in the mentality of Russians, many of whom are shifting from being merely residents of Russia who accept whatever is done to them to being citizens who demand a say in what the authorities do.
This process is still in its infancy, the Moscow commentator says; and the powers that be will certainly try to strangle it in its cradle. But no one can deny it is occurring and increasingly becoming something the authorities cannot fail to take note of. It may even explain why some of the worst things haven’t happened (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5D190E2400E12).
On January 1st of this year, Matveyev recalls, he suggested that Russia’s future was likely to develop along one of three paths, “the very bad, the not very bad, and the quite not bad” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C27B167D4E12). He says that then he didn’t really believe in the second or third but now has changed his mind.
“It is completely obvioius,” he says, “that the situation in Russia is moving along the second of these variants, that is, along the not very bad path,” and that there are even signs of the “quite not bad” variant.
Among the positive signs are mostly negative developments: “Repression remains selective and open terror has not occurred. The borders as before remain pen. The Constitution hasn’t been formally replaced. Monarchy hasn’t been legally declared.” And the regime’s desire to shut off links to the world wide web has remained declarative rather than real.
More positive developments include the collapse of the economy. That has forced people to focus on their problems rather than being distracted by regime propaganda. It has even made them suspicious of what the authorities are saying. And this has completely killed off “the Crimea is ours” euphoria of the past.
Even more positive has been the emergence of “the first signs of the rebirth of regional separatism” in Shiyes, Yekaterinburg, and Suktyvkar most prominently. “This is a very important and extremely dangerous process for the Kremlin regime.” Indeed, it is now “the most horrible threat” for the FSB and thieves in the regime.
The Kremlin will try to destroy it “if it can” and is ready to use real violence because otherwise it won’t survive.
That is because the end of the time when chauvinist propaganda can distract people and when talk about grand plans can keep people from focusing on local problems no one is addressing has passed. The mentality of Russians is changing.
Put in simplest terms, Matveyev says, “the residents of Russia are becoming citizens of Russia.” Of course, this process is only at its beginning. “One can say that it is at the stage of incubation” and no one can say how long this process will take or whether something will reverse it. But the last six months have featured positive moves in this direction.
For a country as badly arranged “as neo-Soviet Russia,” change for the better will require many changes. The three most important of these are the formation of a political elite which cares about the people, the rise of a civil society ready to demand their needs be addressed, and the recognition by the Russian people that thievery cannot be tolerated.
“The first is impossible without the second. The second is unreal without the third. And the third will be realized only when there is the second and thus when the first appears.” This might appear to be a vicious circle without any exit. But the last six months give hope that all three can be changed, albeit not quickly and not all at once.