Putin For Time Being Has Given Carte Blanche To Persecute Those Viewed As Opponents – OpEd


When Putin denies he has ever heard of dissidents who have been arrested, he likely is speaking the truth, Andrey Kolesnikov says. But he shows that he isn’t reading the newspapers but only the reports his aides have prepared and that he accepts the actions of his subordinates against such dissidents as a priori justified.

That reaction in fact represents an opening of the door to mass repressions when siloviki can take action on their own in the expectation that the Kremlin leader will approve or at least will not interfere, an expectation that existed in Soviet times and allowed repressions to spread, the New Times columnist says (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/245298).

For a time, Putin benefits from this situation just as Stalin did; but there comes a point when those who visit repressions on the basis of such analogies and expectations of approval creates conditions in which the top leader is at risk because the actions of his subordinates in this regard may go too far and undermine his regime.

Many forget that at 1937, Stalin cut back but did not eliminate repressions, likely because he recognized that keeping things at the fever pitch of that year would work against him just as he backed away from the excesses of mass collectivization with his “dizzying with success” speech, even though he did not give up the policy.

Kolesnikov’s argument suggests that something similar is possible with Putin, that the current occupant of the Kremlin like his predecessor may allow his subordinates much latitude in their actions but then restrict them after a time only to let them have their head again. That wave-like pattern is another of the consequences of such approaches.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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