By Paul Goble
The increasingly large and blatant appointment of the children of the current Russian elite to top jobs closes off the possibility for upward social mobility in the population and opens “the path to social and political catastrophe … and quite soon,” according to Znak commentator Yekaterina Vinokurova.
She points to the appointment of the 22-year-old son of Nikolay Patrushev to be agricultural minister whose only obvious qualification is that he is the son, she says (znak.com/2018-05-18/ekaterina_vinokurova_o_detyah_elity_spravedlivosti_i_socialnom_vzryve) as only the latest and most obvious example of this dangerous trend.
No one in Russia is surprised by this anymore, Vinokurova says; and when people do challenge officials about it, they are told that “in America, it’s just the same with the clans of the Kennedys, Clintons and so on.” Moreover, they’re told that this is “part of the payment for the stabilization of society and hardly an attempt to impose a new aristocracy.”
But those who make these arguments forget, she says, that not long ago in the United States, an anti-establishment figure, Donald Trump, beat Hillary Clinton precisely by running against entrenched elites. Something similar could confront the Putin elite if it continues to act as it is doing.
“In a situation where social lifts are blocked, in one when the average deputy is an aging millionaire who while flying from Moscow to Nice waxes nostalgic about the Soviet Union … the demonstrative assignment to public state positions of children of highly placed people is a path to social and political catastrophe,” a path that Russia may traverse quite quickly.
“My prophecy as a Cassandra is as follows: In 2025-2035, a chain of contract murders of people in top positions will occur. The murders will remain unresolved sine among the victims will be highly-placed siloviki.” They will be succeeded by their deputies or by their children; and the population will have had enough.
In this situation, Vinokurova continues, blocked social lifts “in combination with the childish faith of the establishment in its own inherited ambitions will create an explosive mixture for those at the lower levels of society” across the country.
“In every region and in every city, people see ‘the golden youth’ exceeding the speed limits in their expensive cars. And they are already deputies of regional parliaments, the heads of major enterprises and so on. Not one of them has worked a single day of his life” at the kind of jobs most Russians have. And not one of them has the training for the jobs they occupy either.
“In the first hours after the naming of the government,” the commentator says, “we corresponded with a clutch of young bureaucrats and state employees, even siloviki. We talked with all of them about Patrushev Junior.” Every single one was horrified that no one at the top recognized how offensive his appointment is to everyone.
How should the opposition exploit this situation? “It is very simple. Now is not the time for liberal ideas. Moreover, the problem of our opposition is that it in part is inherited too … The time of the leftists is coming. Not some kind of Homeric Stalinists but people who in simple language will put before society some long maturing questions.”
“Why in the government are they appointing children of highly placed bureaucrats who have never worked in an ordinary job? Why do the powers that be think that the public approves of this transfer of power by inheritance? Why does the new government want to take the last funds from the self-employed and raise the retirement age … if the members of this same government live in palaces and fly about in private jets?”
Further, those who want to be an effective opposition need to ask, Vinokurova says, “why are people in power putting into force laws that neither they nor their children who are resident in the West live by? And why do they consider that all this won’t end with a rapid social explosion?”