By Paul Goble
While no one knows the details of what will happen in Russia in the coming months, the general pattern is clear, Abbas Gallyamov says. The regime which as of now has enough forces to block any challenge is nonetheless acting in ways that are likely to bring ever more people into the streets.
If a million Russians come out regardless of the pretext, political or not, the former Putin speechwriter and political analyst says, the level of alienation between society and the powers will have grown to a point that the regime itself will be delegitimized and “paralyzed” (echo.msk.ru/blog/gallyamov_a/2823292-echo/).
In this situation, Gallyamov suggests, the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church may turn out to be decisive. Putin clearly thinks something on the lines that “’God gave me power and I cannot and do not have the right to give it up,’” much as the last tsar Nicholas II thought in the years leading up to 1917.
If the Orthodox Church challenges that view, something that seems unlikely now but is not impossible, then Putin will lose one of the bases of his claim to life-long power. And that could happen even if the mass protests begin over something non-political. If they become massive, that alone will politicize them for the regime and the population.
Such a turn of events could happen far more quickly and without preparation than many now think, Gallyamov continues. Many think that “a revolution must be prepared for a long time.” But international experience shows that while leaders and organizations may matter, they are not always a requirement.
Nor is there a need for the development of “some alternative ideology.” Revolutions may arise with an ideology as in Russia or without a clearly defined one as in Mexico and China. The main issue is whether the contradictions between the powers and society reach such a state that they are unsustainable.
According to the commentator, a particularly likely occasion for hundreds of thousands of Russians coming into the streets to protest may be a political event: the moment when the Kremlin feels it needs to nominate Putin for another term in advance of the 2024 elections. That could be a trigger for revolutionary risings.
After all, it was just such an event that led to revolutionary actions in Mexico, although there, the risings were insufficient to block the dictator’s remaining in power. That too is possible in Russia as well, Gallyamov says.