By Paul Goble
The Kremlin’s success in using political technology against its opponents has obscured just how rapidly opposition to the Putin regime has grown not only from the population at large and many analysts but from the senior people in the regime itself, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta.
The Kremlin assumes and many others do as well that political technology can be equally effective for a long time to come, keeping political opponents off the ballot or defeating them if they nonetheless succeed in gaining a place on the ballot; but that assumption is misplaced, they say in a lead article (ng.ru/editorial/2019-03-26/2_7540_red.html).
Instead, the editors argue, the very success the regime has had with political technology has had two consequences both of which are extremely dangerous. On the one hand, it has convinced the regime that it doesn’t have to engage in real politics, offering proposals that will win support, because it can remain in power without doing so.
And on the other, the success the regime’s political technological approach has had in keeping opponents off balance and out of office has concealed from almost everyone just how much anger there is at the regime and its policies. That in turn means that when the opposition does emerge, it may do so in profoundly extra-systemic, even revolutionary ways.
Both the federal center and its regional representatives continue to be that political technology will be sufficient to keep them in power more or less forever, the Moscow paper says. But in fact, this use of political technology as a substitute for real politics only puts off the day of reckoning and makes an explosion more rather than less likely.
And that in turn means, the editors say, that the Kremlin may not be able to sense “that moment when protest voting is transformed into a revolt and by so doing blocks the mechanism of the legitimation of the powers that be via elections.” They add that everything points in that direction now.