Ekaterina Shulman about the power crisis, political repression and rallies in Moscow
In Moscow more than a month of tense protests. In the Kremlin consider that there is no political crisis in the country is not, however, rallies and marches, each time collecting more and more people. Znak.com spoke with political analyst Ekaterina Shulman as to whether taking place in the country to consider political crisis and whether the ruling elite to retain power in the country ahead of elections 2021-2024 years.
“Terror is certainly an effective tool”
— How would you assess what is happening in Moscow for the past five weeks: the never-ending protests, the growing number of detainees, the growing confrontation between civilians and security forces.
Press Secretary of the President the day before said that I do not agree with “the many” who evaluates what is happening in Moscow as a political crisis. It would be surprising if the version of the crisis was formally adopted. In fact, many commentators and political analysts also do not consider the ongoing crisis, arguing that the crisis is a loss of control. And we have not seen the loss of control, we have a visible, consistent and enthusiastic repressive activity, which is not called coveted for some or for others a frightening term “crisis”.
However, without going excessive in the meaning and content of the term “crisis”, I would say that we have now observed a pronounced protest, political activity in the uncharacteristic for this season, a rather unusual occasion, and a few unexpected scale. As in any socio-political phenomenon there is an element of the objective and the item occasional. The objective element is fairly obvious: the societal attitudes that lead to the protest vote (as we saw during the regional elections in 2018), mass signing of petitions, appeals to the authorities and street protests (which were in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Moscow, Cheese, Syktyvkar, Arkhangelsk, Yaroslavl, Kemerovo, St. Petersburg, Magas), we are witnessing the last two and a half years. The reasons for this is also the most classic: the continuing decline in real disposable incomes, economic stagnation, lack of access and/or poor quality of important social services, administrative and police restrictions almost any economic and social activity. In such circumstances, to keep people happy only to intense propaganda, but briefly, and passive — only propaganda plus the police pressure, but also limited time.
These basic laws in any society and in any political system, but the system is undemocratic reaction will be delayed due to the lack of or distortion of existing feedback channels. That is, people in the absence of regular competitive elections and multi-level open information space have nowhere else to Express their dissatisfaction. But they find ways and tools, as we can see.
Ekaterina Salmanilla Pitalev / RIA Novosti
It’s about natural. Now on random. What is happening in Moscow now seems to be unexpected by four parameters: the timing, the occasion, the intensity of the reaction.
Timing — because it’s just too dull and passive the season. We have had protests in October, December, March and may, but July and August protests have not been, probably since 1991.
The second occasion. All have had no time to wonder why is it that so many citizens interested in the elections to the Moscow city Duma, which in the past, and the time before that was not interested in anyone.
The third intensity. In protests, as in any other quantitative parameter (the price of oil, the ratings of confidence in politicians, level of income, the temperature of the air) is never very important figure, important dynamics and trends: increasing, decreasing, stable. So when I ask: and 20 thousand people at the rally — that’s a lot? And 50 thousand. And trust rating of the President in the 63%? But 75%? — it’s all pointless questions. In protest activity, we are seeing an upward trend, so it makes sense to calculate how many per cent of the total number of Muscovites are came to the rally. It is important that the protesters are getting bigger.
The fourth reaction. Reaction to all events in Moscow looks redundant — not even in the sense of excessive violence (it’s a matter of taste), and that reacting as if sitting in an ambush and waited, and when finally given the opportunity, they jumped. It seems that the government was preparing for something like this and here it happened.
And on the part of protesters, and by reacting some of what is happening looks like a false start, or if you want lead-time. It would be logical to expect something similar at the Federal elections, for example, in 2021 (when the state Duma deputies of the eighth convocation. — Approx. ed.) or 2024 (during elections of the President of Russia. — Approx. ed.).
It is possible that the story in Moscow is considered the security community as a chance to crush the emerging protest in the Bud. Like, let’s suppress it now, and in 2021 and 2024, we will be calmer. Could it justify such a calculation? Well, theoretically maybe. Terror is certainly an effective tool, otherwise it will not use, but the terror is not universally effective, otherwise I would just use that. In fact, no political regime, even the occupation administration, does not hold physical strength. All stand on some basis of public consent, and when nothing turns out to be — at least mimic it. Therefore, based on the fact that the public mood which are the root cause of the protest is objectively justified, long-term and are not situational, it is hard to imagine that they could somehow cancel, expand or redirect in the other direction.
There is a version that we are dealing with the same sentiment, which was already in 2011-2012, but then the mood is somehow distracted: some frightened, others fed, third are distracted by all sorts of foreign and cross-border adventures. But the mood and the requests have not gone away, and in latent form waiting for the moment when all these distractions will become obsolete and will cease to operate, in order to escape to the surface again in the form manifestly political action.
“That annoy people tomorrow, it is hard to imagine”
— Why the people’s excitement the same scale as in Moscow, did not arise, say, in St. Petersburg, where truly important election of the mayor? May day demonstration in St. Petersburg, when the security forces very harshly dispersed the protesters, acting Alexander Beglov, his persistent reservation on performances, questionable initiatives like “shovels Beglov” and the prohibition of excursions to the roofs, non-admission of competitors on elections of the Governor that was on the agenda, what was discussed in social networks, wrote about the national media. Starting in June all attention, as if abruptly switched to Moscow.
— Do not agree with this. Attention really shifted to Moscow, because since June there have started to happen amazing things — first “business Golunova,” then the Moscow city Duma elections. But this does not mean that there is nothing going on. There really was a beating of participants of may day demonstration, was a typical criminal methods campaign to ban people for the municipal elections, there then came the troops from Moscow (from among the representatives of the CEC and the Department of internal policy of administration), which managed the situation in St. Petersburg handled (as they call it). Against this background, the Governor’s campaign continues to be uncontested, but the prospects of this campaign is ambiguous. I’m not going to make predictions, but in St. Petersburg is not all quiet. And I’m really not sure that there will not be a second round, after which the authorities will have to invent something in the seaside spirit.
But media is arranged in such a way that can’t keep an eye on two subjects at the same time, so the media moved on to Moscow.
And Yes, protest activity — the matter is quite mysterious. That stirred up people tomorrow or in a month, it is difficult to foresee. We know roughly what people tend to resent: ostentatious injustice, state violence, demonstrated by the consumption of civil servants. An additional irritant — if in the story in any children are present. This is all well known, but in which the reflecting surface of society will see this set of triggers in the next unpredictable.
— At an opposition rally on 10 August there were many different groups: some advocated the release of all political prisoners, the other for the termination “of the case on July 27”, the third for the admission to elections of independent candidates, someone demanded the resignation of Sergei Sobyanin. As such, one agenda was not, although the resolution made at the end of the protest, still failed a total. Whether it needs the opposition of a single, specific agenda now?
— About the fact that at the meeting everyone talked about their, does not agree. Were common themes that were heard in every speech: is police repression, the denial of access to the polls and then the arrest of independent candidates, a criminal case on the riots on 27 July. If we are to look for “unified agenda” for the protest movement, here it is. And what among other things and interesting, this wave of protest, it’s the fact that she has a very clear thesis: the requirement of political participation (“Give us the opportunity to vote for our candidates”) and demanding the cessation of political repression.
In fact, this protest against the unpredictable, frightening and chaotic police violence and criminal repression is very clear to all in Russia. Because of the activity of law enforcement corporations all suffer and business and cultural figures and institutions, journalists and any person who is always in danger of falling under batch or get a package of powder in my back pocket or the trunk of a car. Now there is a popular manner to initiate a criminal case not for trial results and for the sake of investigative actions: call to interrogations, searches, pre-trial detention or other restriction of freedom. And there the case can be closed, changed to another article, and ahead the prospect of Amnesty, which we like to cover all of the investigative errors, if not crimes. The criminal case now allows very effectively to terrorize people, to call them in for questioning, to elect a preventive measure.
Alexander vilf / RIA Novosti
From the point of view of the theory of repression are point and diffuse. Point aimed at leaders and activists, diffuse — the representatives of social strata (students, journalists, young people, parents) to other representatives of the same strata to associate themselves with those who were subjected to repression, and fear. Criminal case about mass riots in Moscow has signs of diffuse repression, but the case against the FCO of money laundering — point. By the way, neither one nor the other — not a mass. Mass repression, they are also cleaning or purges in the English language usage, it’s not intimidation, and the destruction of social classes, professional groups or ethnic groups. When repression falls on the head of you personally, all this classification is not really any consolation, but knowing it is helpful to realistically assess what is happening and to build rational forecasts.
— Tell me, what authority decides for themselves at the time when initiate a criminal case on the riots in Moscow, which actually was not; when initiating the process for termination of parental rights of a young couple who came to the meeting with the child; when to initiate criminal proceedings for thrown to the side of Regardie paper Cup? Why power itself creates tension in the society, giving a reason for discussion and condemnation?
— Here again I quote the press Secretary of the President, who said the awful truth, but he, as usual, nobody believed: “there is No single center of decision-making, each Agency acts within its functions.” Listen to this sentence, the reader, and you will be at ease. Because the way it is: each Agency operates within its functions, and each Agency is afraid to be late, not to participate in this festival power of initiative and did not get their share of attention, including from the media. Everyone is afraid that at the moment when the need to show loyalty and efficiency, they are not particularly loyal and effective or less effective than the neighbors in uniform.
This, by the way, there is a feeling that all law enforcement agencies act in unison they have a kind of unity. It’s just not unity, this is a competition. Even in the case of a child whose parents took with them to the rally. Prosecutors thought, and let us in our prosecutorial supervision will submit the prescription, we require to deprive them of their parental rights. The investigative Committee saw it, thought: God, what an interesting thing the Prosecutor came up, and then we have something to sleep? Then it turns out that the Prosecutor’s office is not quite what he had in mind, and the investigation has no claims to the family, and indeed this is shamefully trying to sweep under the carpet, while not closing — you never know, you suddenly need to renew it.
If you ask about any long-term consequences, then nobody’s thinking. These people live with very short planning horizon. What are the socio-political implications, I think we are. And the consequences will be as follows. Do not, of course, to underestimate the chilling effect of revealing the terror: people have something to fear. But the feeling that these measures are unfair, that they did not like the restoration of order and stability, is becoming more common and uniting. Yes, fearing the potential punishment for the unauthorized rally, the person next in action may not work, but that doesn’t make him loyal. Moreover, it redirects the indignation of the people in other channels. Just look how enthusiastic people are helping the detainees, donate to human rights organizations. Why does this energy go? People have the desire to feel at least minimally decent person. That is, the festival of force activity, the company is liable for its festival of solidarity. And this is, perhaps, a new and remarkable phenomenon, in contrast to the monotonous of the police and criminal repression that we’ve seen in sufficient quantity.
Evgeny Odinokov / RIA Novosti
— You say that the so-called “festival of solidarity” in society is a new phenomenon. Then what the government will do with him in anticipation 2021-2024 years?
Is we will only see with time. Now, of course, the hour of the security forces. No civil political management is not expressed and not involved in anything, he withdrew. Question — can these managers to return when they wish. But they think they will succeed. As I understand, the idea is to give the security forces to dance the way they can do that, and then come the civil political management and say: you, the security forces did a good job, great patriots, twists just, a bunch of cases filed, but once the protests subside and the public mood does not improve, so we will continue to work on their own. And we will see it after a while. That’s just want our band marching song and dance off stage, which he so successfully takes?
And going back to the beginning of our conversation. You can, of course, is not considered a crisis in any political situation as long as someone of the most important members of the government will not run away abroad in a dress. But the fact that there was a bias, an imbalance of the power of our mechanism in favor of the security actors, it is beyond doubt. And how civil would be to fix this thing, it will be interesting to watch. This whole review system and the songs, of course, monopolisitic our attention, but the political problem is not solved — the elections will be in three weeks. And the people they will come, and even for someone vote. And then have to count the votes, and then have to be alone with the results of this protest vote. And then what? Either accept the results and deal with very increased Communist faction in the Moscow city Duma and some novamov, which will vote in protest, or to “draw” the desired result, and it can activate Primorsky variant — rigging, the protests, and then the CEC cancels election results and appoint a new one. The trick is that both the first and second, and the third scenario is very long-lasting political crisis.
It is useful to remember that in addition to public-political side of elections, they have both the financial side and she is very big. Those people who participate in these elections and organise them, put money into it, and rather big, though, for the most part not their own. But if it turns out that on 9 September, the people who went into the election as independent candidates with the support of mayor and so many peretrutova during the election campaign, still have not received mandates, it will be the next round of the unwinding spiral. Because when angry and humiliated I only feel voters are not so bad, but when resentful and unhappy will feel the candidates pseudoanonymity — it will be the next Chapter in our history.
“If only Regardie at all enough”
— By the way, about the unbalancing power of our mechanism. Now in the arena of security forces. You say that now is their time. And from the Kremlin, the Moscow mayor’s office, other political forces, by the very “civil” situation in the capital, the situation is generally manageable, in your opinion? Do indeed with the election results not only in Moscow and in other regions it is necessary to live and something to do, and ahead of the elections to the state Duma and then presidential elections. Is it appropriate in this situation to solve the problem only for short distances, not playing long?
— You described the picture I generally agree. There is no one to sympathize — no pity, no, as they say in the famous song. To give advice to anyone I won’t, I have them and no one asks, and the tips they deserve. Will it be possible to turn the wheel even slightly in the other direction, of course, is not to make people’s lives better, but in order to regain escaped from the hands of the levers of control — I don’t know, I’m not sure. It is obvious that those who will do it, now it seems that it is quite possible. From their point of view, it’s summer — vacation, in the dead season there was a kind of strange Buza in Moscow, but soon everything will return to normal order of things, and about the incident will gradually be forgotten.
Once again I will quote Dmitry Peskov: “there are rallies Everywhere, and that we have the same demonstrations happened.” Nothing special, though, and did not happen. That’s just the power of the community does not want to pretend that nothing had happened. It and joined them deputies and senators, on the contrary, promote the abundance of what is happening: foreign intervention, the rebellion, armed revolt and organized riots. All this trouble just stopped and almost won, but you need to beat it further. And for that we need new powers, new resources, new budgets and new legislation.
Ramil Sitdikov / RIA Novosti
But on September 8 in Russia will be quite a lot of elections, and in some regions the results might be determined by the popular formula “considered — to tears.” In which case emergency landings from CEC and the Department of internal policy on all at once is not enough. If only Regardie, of course, at all enough! But it will be difficult to portray the invasion of the “orange plague” in every region of Russia, where elections will be held. So once again: our political management is to be congratulated with all at once: with their creativity, efficiency, forethought, consistent action and a common mind. Wherever it was possible to create something smart, they did not miss the chance to do it. As expressed on this occasion, the political scientist Alexander Kynev, “a collective contribution invaluable.”
— How do you assess the behavior of the mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin as the policy in this situation?
— The mayor of Moscow, elections were held recently, be re-elected he will not have to. Therefore, from a pragmatic point of view, he behaved rationally was more important for him not to incur suspicion of disloyalty than to win the hearts of Muscovites. He demonstrated unconditional loyalty and solidarity with the security community, and, in fact, nothing more.
Of course, the whole story in Moscow — this is not how city hall imagined an election campaign. And this situation has put the mayor in a row with all those governors who have made in their local regions outrages, disturbing the rest of the Federal government. This does not mean imminent resignation, but nevertheless, a big minus in karma obvious. If you imagine that by 2021 in Moscow everything is quiet and no new protest action will not happen (well, suddenly), today’s wound they can lick. But it is deep and steaming, as in the famous poem Lermontov.
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