Saturday, November 27, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Russia is Heading Not Toward Stagnation but Toward Collapse, Moscow Columnist Warns

Paul Goble

Staunton, November 27 – President Dmitry Medvedev’s suggestion that Russia is at risk of a new period of stagnation has been taken by most analysts as a warning, but one Moscow commentator suggests that Medvedev is not only wrong but behind the times. Russia, she says, is facing “not stagnation” but rather developments pointing toward “the collapse of the state.”
In a commentary posted on, Natalya Gevorkian asks “And just where is this stagnation?” Are the exposures of criminal structures and their links to the militia in Kushchevskaya evidence of that? Is the arrogance of the Nashi group? Or are the revelations on YouTube by disaffected militiamen? (
No, she argues, these and many other things “are not stagnation. They are signs of the disintegration of the state.” Or more precisely, she suggests, these things represent a kind of a cry of despair “about the degradation of state power, which do not elicit anything from a normal person except a disgusted turning away.”
All this, Gevorkian suggests, is the result of Moscow’s current “hopeless attempt to combine ‘from above’ two irreconcilable extremes – conversations about great power conservatism with conversations about the need for modernization,” an attempt that is sending cracks through the power vertical and completing discrediting the ruling bureaucracy.
That is not stagnation either, Gevorkian continues. “It is gloom an a complete failure of the myth about stability. The events in Kushevskaya showed the slaves and salvery won’t save them. They will come and kill you whatever you do.” And people are concluding that there is no reason to obey them.
“One doesn’t want to think about a slave revolt. One doesn’t want to think about a revolt in general,” the columnist says. But eventually people run out of patience with what is going on, when they say that they have “had enough,” then “this is not stagnation” and Medvedev is “not right” to call the situation that.
The sense that people have had enough is “not stagnation.” And the problems that people feel are to be found in “systemic errors, laid up by the current power, which dispensed with elections for a result known in advance. The problem now is the misuse of the patience of the slaves” and the lack of awareness that this patience can and will run out.
Medvedev, Gevorkian continues, was born in 1965, and he should remember what happened to the CPSU and to the USSR when the regime continued to use its fraudulent elections in ways that everyone in the country could understand. And he should recognize that the real threats come not from the loyalist opposition but from “marginal” radical groups.
Moreover, he and the powers that be should be concerned about the situations that occasionally arise “when people are forced to make a choice and go against the powers that be,” even if these are in the first instance local ones. Moscow must remove those people or a moment will come “when people will begin to defend themselves both from bandits and from governors.
And that situation, Gevorkian points out, “is called civil war.”
The time for “step by step” measures is passed. “This power had ten years in order to put things in order” and it failed to do so. Now, it has “no reserve of firmness, 100 dollars a barrel [of oil], and a reserve of patience on the part of the slaves.” And Medvedev must understand this reality.
Moreover, Gevorkian points out, the Russian president must understand that “Putin’s errors” are “automatically” becoming his own as far as the population is concerned. And that too is evidence that “in the country there is no stagnation,” whatever Surkov tells the American students about democracy.
“I am a normal person,” the “” columnist writes, “and to me normal development is always more preferable to cataclysms and chaos. But a government in the form in which it now presents itself,” despite its control of the media, is “a state which [Russians] have had enough of.” Medvedev needs to understand that and not talk any more about stagnation.

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