By Paul Goble
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian industrialist and now émigré opposition leader, says that Putin’s use of war to justify his hyper-centralized authoritarian rule is leading even many predominantly ethnic Russian oblasts and krays to think about independence.
The Kremlin leader’s “normalization of war,” his use of it four times already to justify extracting so many resources from the regions to support his regime and its policies, is leading Russia to “a practically inevitable collapse” and the potential for a nuclear war among its former parts (svoboda.org/a/mihail-hodorkovskiy-putin-podvel-rossiyu-k-neizbezhnomu-raspadu/31901605.html).
Russians in the regions are already asking themselves why they should have to send 60 percent of their incomes to Moscow so that it can engage in foreign adventures. No one needs those, Khodorkovsky says, adding that the only way to avoid such disintegration is for the regions to gain real representation and power in the center.
In sum, “the federal center must become a place for the representation of the regions” and not an independent actor that forces the regions to pay for what it does but without having any say in the matter, the émigré opposition leader says. Achieving that will be hard because Russia has been moving in the opposite direction since the shelling of the parliament in 1993.
Putin understands these risks, and that is why he has been seeking to normalize war as a state of existence for Russians and why he will continue to use war as a means of keeping himself and his clique in power as long as he can. Only his departure and the change of the nature of the Russian political system can change that, Khodorkovsky concludes.