By Paul Goble
Sunday’s demonstrations across the Russian Federation “objectively” help Vladimir Putin in much the same way that the mass meetings of 1937 “supported the Stalinist campaign of struggle with ‘enemies of the people,’” according to Irina Pavlova.
Most commentators for completely understandable reasons prefer to draw comparisons with 1917 rather than 1937, but the US-based Russian historian says that for her “it is obvious that the meetings of progressive society which took place supported the intensification of the Kremlin’s anti-corruption agenda in the same way that the 1937 meetings supported the Stalinist campaign” (ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2017/03/blog-post_32.html#more).
Pavlova says “repressions against specific corrupt figures” will continue and that Putin will use this campaign to replace Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister not now but at the time of the presidential elections. She adds that the new premier will be tasked with carrying out “a policy of modernization of a Stalinist type, modified for the conditions of the 21st century.”
In this way, she says, “the anti-Western vector of the development of [Russia] will be finally strengthened,” a course made even more likely because “it is difficult to imagine that the Kremlin will turn away from its chosen direction of Russian conservatism and the pursuit of great power status.”
Sunday’s demonstrations also worked for Putin in another way: they helped promote “the illusion” that it will be a good thing for a higher percentage of Russians to participate in the elections, something that the Kremlin leader and his aides have been focusing on with their program of “70 and 70.”
Moreover, “the fact of an unsanctioned meeting taking place in Moscow and the violations of this ban will become a formal justification for intensifying repressions against dissidents and the so-called national traitors,” the historian suggests, again drawing a parallel with 1937.
Because of the involvement of so many young people in these demonstrations, Pavlova says, “the powers will intensify the patriotic education of young people and involve it in the solution of the tasks of modernization. In this way, its demand for change and for the building of a new society will be satisfied.”
As far as the fate of Aleksey Navalny personally, Pavlova concludes, it is entirely likely that “a place will be found for him in the ranks of the systemic opposition. Possibly, he will even become the leader of a new party representing the interests both of the youth and of the liberal-patriotic segment of Russian society.”