Expert: Putin’s power largely rests on the myth of the monolithic nature of Russian society

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes an icy dip to mark Epiphany

A flash mob passed peacefully in Russia &# 171; Love is stronger than fear

Three protest events took place in Russia on Sunday, February 14, according to media reports. These are the all-Russian flash mob of supporters of Alexei Navalny “Love is stronger than fear”, the action in Moscow and St. Petersburg “Chain of solidarity and love” in support of Yulia Navalny and women political prisoners, as well as a rally authorized by the authorities in Kazan.

The most negative reaction was the reaction of the Russian authorities to the decision of the headquarters of Alexei Navalny to hold a flash mob “Love is stronger than fear” on Valentine’s Day. Initially, it was reported by Navalny’s associate Leonid Volkov. The essence of the idea was that on Sunday at the appointed hour, everyone who wanted to go out into their yard, turn on the flashlight on the phone, raise it up and stand there for some time..

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation declared in this regard its readiness “to ensure law and order and prevent destabilization of the situation in cities and other settlements.” The department recalled that after the recent protests in support of Navalny, 90 criminal cases were opened.

Statements similar in tone and direction were made by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

A massive propaganda campaign was launched against the action planned by Navalny’s supporters. It was joined by State Duma deputies, TV presenters and pro-Kremlin political scientists.

In accordance with the requirement of Roskomnadzor, a number of publications, including Mediazona, were forced to delete the notes on the February 14 rally..

Vyacheslav Bakhmin, co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group and founder of the Sakharov Center, believes that it was worth announcing the action at least to see how the authorities would react to it. According to the human rights activist, the official reaction to the flash mob turned out to be so inadequate that more was not required. “The action revealed the collective stupidity of the authorities,” Bakhmin explained in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service. – In principle, it could not have been carried out, it has already done its job. I think no one expected that there would be such a heightened, disproportionate and frightened reaction. At least she just amazed me “.

At the same time, Bakhmin found it difficult to say what exactly the Kremlin feared in the first place. In his opinion, the authorities do not have a single strategy – how to respond to such challenges from opposition actors.

“The non-standard decision of Navalny’s headquarters put the authorities in an extremely uncomfortable position,” the human rights activist stated. – In my opinion, it was a very competent move. On the one hand, he demonstrated the complete inability of the authorities to adequately respond to such challenges. On the other hand, it gave me the opportunity to laugh at the authorities once again to my heart’s content. “.

As Bakhmin emphasized, the action showed that the protesters are not going to give up, that their will is not broken and that they should continue to use various creative formats to interact with the authorities – at least unilaterally..

Expert: Putin's power largely rests on the myth of the monolithic nature of Russian society

Political scientist Fyodor Krasheninnikov stressed in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America that from the very beginning he considered the idea of ​​the action constructive. And everyone was able to make sure that the organizers of the flash mob were completely right, the expert is convinced.

“They came up with an action that angered the authorities as much as possible and led to (a state of) hysteria,” Krasheninnikov specifies. – So, it was originally a correctly conceived and well-executed move. I think Navalny’s team has studied the government well enough to get to the point every time they come up with their own actions. It was a rewarding experience, and it will undoubtedly come in handy in the future. “.

Navalny’s staff very well feels the nerve of modern Russia and knows how to hit right on target, the political scientist asserts: “Putin’s power largely rests on the mythology of the monolithic nature of Russian society, which fully supports the president. Therefore, when ordinary people voluntarily participate in an action of solidarity with Navalny, they destroy the main myth of the system. In recent days, propaganda has been strenuously asserting that everyone who is against Putin is NATO spies and foreign agents. Now someone, willy-nilly, will probably wonder whether this is really so, or they are blatantly lying to him on TV “.

The main point of the action is to consolidate people who disagree with the regime, Krasheninnikov stressed. “It involves ordinary people in politics and does not require any great effort from them. This is what the authorities fear most. She is afraid that people dissatisfied with Putin will see how many of them really are, ”the analyst said..

  • Victor Vladimirov


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