Russian political scientists – on the relationship between authoritarianism and expansionism in Moscow’s politics

Tsars, Commissars and President Putin: Why Russian History is the Key toUnderstanding Russia Today

How Russia’s foreign policy continues its domestic

The turn of the decades was marked by numerous summaries of the results of the twenty-year rule of Vladimir Putin in Russia and forecasts regarding the country’s development in the twenties of the new century..

Russian experts have already managed to share their assessments in the field of economics and public sentiment with the Russian service of the Voice of America.

This time we are talking about the domestic and foreign policy of Russia under Vladimir Putin.

Elena Galkina: “A generation of people has grown up who want to live with dignity”

Political columnist, Doctor of Historical Sciences Elena Galkina calls the zero years a period of consolidation of power – public-political, economic, military-administrative and ideological. In an interview with a correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America, she explained that the representatives of the law enforcement agencies who made up Vladimir Putin’s team either pushed aside the former ruling elite, or incorporated into their system.

“The era of so-called“ sovereign ”, and in fact – controlled democracy begins, when the opposition political forces are tempted by the presidential administration to cooperate. And thus, the political field falls, in fact completely, under the control of this body – the heir to the Central Committee of the CPSU, “- said Galkina.

To ensure ideological domination, at the beginning of the 2000s, the seizure of popular TV channels was carried out – NTV, ORT, TV-6 and a number of others. “And by the beginning of the tenth years we are approaching with an almost completely cleared information field with regard to traditional media. There was only the TV-2 channel in Tomsk, which “died” in 2015, “the expert recalls..

As a result, by the tenth year, the “vertical of power” had already been built. “Within itself, the ruling Russian class was completely in solidarity, no splits among the elite were visible. But, on the other hand, this whole structure, seemingly unshakable, can collapse almost instantly. Because in the tenths a big problem for this construction was discovered, namely: a generation of people has grown up who want to live with dignity, who have a need for dignity, freedom, and justice. And these value needs force people to take to the streets of cities, outraged not by the monetization of benefits, which would be somehow understandable to the ruling class, but by the results of the elections. And to come out in huge numbers, “- says Galkina.

In her opinion, the fact that the Russian protest movement has become part of a global trend frightened the Kremlin even more: “Both the Arab Spring and the Maidan in Ukraine made the Russian authorities think hard. And I think that the annexation of Crimea, and the aggression in Donbass, and desperate assistance to the dictator Assad in Syria, so that only he remains in power – all this was largely due to internal fear. That a process uncontrolled by them can gradually begin and intensify in Russia, millions of crowds will rush into the streets and sweep everything away “.

According to Galkina, it was fear that pushed the Russian authorities to launch a massive attack on human rights and freedoms, to amend the Criminal Code and Administrative Offenses Code of the Russian Federation, to adopt laws restricting freedom of speech on the Internet, and so on. “At the same time, the rigidity of the laws adopted by the“ mad printer ”, i. E. The State Duma is much stronger than their enforcement. After all, if you literally approach every Russian citizen with these laws, then everyone will be in prison. And the State Duma deputies themselves openly say that what is meant here is the selectivity of justice, that is, people need to be frightened with separate cases, so that others will not disagree, ”explains the interlocutor of the“ Voice of America ”.

Thus, Russia is approaching the twenties with a consolidated and seemingly confident power elite that is ready to defend its “place in the sun” by any means. “Moreover, ideological aspects come out on top. Freedom in our country is opposed to justice, liberalism sounds only in a negative connotation, patriotism is understood as loyalty to the state. But how effective all this will turn out to be, they themselves do not know. In our country, power finds itself in the situation of Yuri Andropov, who said: “we do not know the country in which we live”. The authorities also do not know what society thinks, because few people dare to honestly answer the questions of sociologists. Especially – to direct questions. And electoral uprisings have already happened periodically in one place or another. Where the slightest opportunity for a protest vote appears, it happens immediately. And people who want to live with dignity will become the generation of the twenties, ”concludes Elena Galkina.

Russian political scientists - on the relationship between authoritarianism and expansionism in Moscow's politics

Ivan Kurilla: “The Tenth Years Are Completing Not at All on a Positive Note”

American historian Ivan Kurilla compares the foreign policy tendencies characteristic of the Russian authorities in the 2000s and 10s. He recalls that Vladimir Putin at the very beginning of his presidency did not rule out the possibility of Russia joining the North Atlantic Alliance. And at the end of the 2000s, US President Barack Obama proposed a reset of US-Russian relations. “Those. both began and ended zero on the wave of positive relations between Russia and the West, Kurilla believes. – And the tenth – began with a reset, and end in a situation when Russia is trying to get out of the burden of the consequences of everything that Russian foreign policy has done over the past ten years. In general, international relations over the years have become more complicated, including for Russia. And we see that the tenth end is not at all on a positive note: Russia is isolated, it is under sanctions, it is trying to return to the circle of respectable countries, but at the same time we hear voices in the United States to recognize Russia as a sponsor of terrorism. “.

Professor Kurilla considers the second half of Putin’s 20-year rule to be unsuccessful in foreign policy for Russia. At the same time, both in the 2000s and in the 10s, according to the expert, domestic political problems were prevalent for the Russian leadership. “It seems to me that both the successes of the 2000s and the failures of the tenths are largely the result of political changes within the country. The end of the 2000s was marked by hopes for the liberalization of Russia, and this coincided with the vector of foreign policy cooperation with the world community, but in the tenths it became obvious that Russia was falling more and more into an authoritarian regime, and this is in harmony with negative trends in foreign policy, ”reflects Ivan Kurilla.

Regarding Russia’s relations with the European Union, the expert emphasizes that the countries of the so-called “old Europe” have been Russia’s economic partners longer than the United States. And this cooperation has not yet been completely curtailed at the present time, although there are fewer and fewer joint projects. “We remember that Germany in the 2000s was both an economic partner and a political, if not an ally, then a country that took into account Russian concerns. In contrast, by the way, from the United States, if we consider the Euro-Atlantic community as a whole. But, unfortunately, in the tenths, partnership with Europe is becoming more and more problematic, and this is an indicator of the same trend, “says an interlocutor of the Russian service” Voice of America “.

Kurilla states that the European Union is not homogeneous; in its ranks there are countries that from the very beginning were critical of Russia’s integration into world structures: “But in the end, everything came to the conclusion that by now ideas about the need to isolate Russia have prevailed, and one of the reasons for this is foreign policy behavior Russia itself. Of course, both the United States and European countries are responsible for the current situation. But we are speaking from within Russia, and it is most painful for me to realize what mistakes, what wrong actions were committed by Russia itself ”.

Assessing the prospects for the third decade, Ivan Kurilla stresses that the link between domestic political tendencies and Russia’s foreign policy will remain. At the same time, the expert hopes that, at least by the end of the twenties, significant positive shifts will be observed in both respects. “We’re talking about the next decade, and what I’m talking about probably won’t happen next year or even two years from now. But I would like to believe that in five or six years, even in ten, but we will live in a more peaceful situation, and we will remember the tenth years as a crisis that we overcame ”.

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