By Paul Goble
Russian imperial nationalism is destroying the Russian people “as we have known it for 30 years,” Kirill Medvedev says. It is “an anti-Russian and anti-people ideology” that seeks to bind the people and the autocracy together. But in that combination, “one of the elements inevitably perishes” and now the Russian people seems the more likely to do so.
Putin’s mobilization is destroying it even as so-called patriots celebrate what he is doing, the Moscow commentator says. “The post-Soviet Russian people with all its good and bad aspects is fading away” and with it are disappearing all the hopes that animated so many people in the late 1980s and 1990s (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2022/09/25/mobilizovat-i-unichtozhit).
Before Putin declared his mobilization, Medvedev continues, “one could at least understand in part the hopes of the Z public that malicious liberals and hipsters would now leave and new forces would rise from the Russian land in a powerful renewal. But now that is definitely impossible.”
What options are left if mobilization is not stopped in the near term? the commentator asks. He suggests that there are three. First, Putin may conclude a peace to his liking. In that case, Russians can look forward to “a heavily fascist neo-Putin order … in which elites control a frightened country and the people live passively for another 10 to 20 years.
A second possibility is that Russia loses after Putin uses nuclear weapons. In that event, Russia will be subjected to occupation and an order imposed from above. That will finish off any possibility that those remaining can act in defense of the Russian nation even if they have help from abroad.
And the third option, one that seems both naïve and unlikely, would involve a rebellion against the regime that has taken Russia to war and now seeks to mobilize its entire population to fight in Ukraine. As Medvedev observes, “mobilization has turned out to be ‘partial’ only in the capitals.” Everywhere else, “every thirtieth man of military age will be called up.”
What might such a rebellion look like? It would certainly involve women who are already the leaders of protests, workers who are losing their jobs, and other nations who fear they will go down with Russia if they don’t get out now. Could such a combination lead to a reformed and democratic Russia? Tragically, there is little chance of that.