By Paul Goble
Russia faces a humanitarian catastrophe of extraordinary proportions this winter, Konstantin Borovoy says, with many Russians now not simply below the poverty line but at risk of survival, a trend that the Russian government has implicitly acknowledged by introducing ration cards for certain categories of the population.
Unless Moscow gets enough food into the hands of large families, pensioners, children and other at-risk groups, Russia will face a crime wave as people try to get money for food anyway they can or “people will begin to die from hunger,” the Russian opposition politician and analyst says (aboutru.com/2015/09/18423/).
Unfortunately, he says, the Russian authorities are responding in the worst possible way. Instead of using market methods to stimulate the production and distribution of needed foods, Moscow is destroying imported foods and distributing other food via ration cards, an approach that will lead to “the growth of a black market, speculation and an increase in criminal activity.”
There are already reports that Russians are stealing food from stores and even “killing those who are incapable of defending themselves. (That Moscow is turning away from helping the most defenseless, those with handicaps, is suggested by another report about Russian social policy at newizv.ru/society/2015-09-22/227633-vyhodnaja-gruppa.html.)
“The introduction of ration cards,” he continues, reflects the collapse of the Russian economy, “which has ceased to function.” It is, as the doctors say, “a palliative” that will reduce the pain somewhat but will not cure the patient. For that to happen, Russia must reconnect with the outside world and reform at home.
But as “we see, the situation is developing now in a completely different direction: Russia is throwing its forces into Syria,” something that will rapidly make the bad situation of the Russian economy even worse.
Russian rulers should know better: At the start of the Russo-Japanese war, the tsarist government thought it could defeat the Japanese with Russian arms alone. It was wrong, the war ended not only with a Russian defeat but also with the triggering of a revolution inside Russia itself.
Today, it appears, Borovoy says, that Russia’s rulers “are trying to repeat this negative example. And this could lead also to the destruction of the Russian state because the Syrian adventure cannot bring any military successes. The defense of Asad and the military bases can end only in a tragedy.”
In fact, it is already clear that the Syrian people have a double enemy: Asad and Russian forces defending him. “Now everything possible is being done to prevent the clash of coalition forces with Russian ones. But such clashes are inevitable. In fact, they have already begun,” and that will expand the conflict not only there but in Russia itself.