The origins of Putinism: How Russia came to the cult of Vladimir Putin

Author : Vladyslav Inozemtsev

Source : 112 Ukraine

Putinism origins lie in the economic, domestic and foreign policy of new Russia
18:38, 19 October 2016

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Whenever supporters of democratic and liberal views gather in Russia or abroad, discussions are centered on one of the eternal Russian question "What to do?" Unfortunately, the answer to it could not be found for long year; it is impossible to find the "nerve" of public concern; formulate attractive slogans; coordinate efforts within their own ranks. As a result, each year the country sinks deeper into self-isolation and ignorance; imbued with the spirit of militarism and imperialism. The reference to the traditional Russian question: "Who is guilty?" is quite rare today. Why? The answer is already known. Putin and "criminal clique" who seized the country and brainwash people buying up all and all for dirty petrodollars.

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This explanation, however, does not take into account the important fact that Russia, which Putin actually turned into his personal property, was not "conquered" from democratic government - the current president was brought to the Kremlin by the father of the new Russia, Boris Yeltsin. Proponents of the new government were the oligarchs, earning money on the market chaos. They skilfully organized the privatization of the 1990s, the main ideologist of which was the liberal Anatoly Chubais. Infinite power newfound Putin over the state, has been fixed norms "most democratic" Constitution developed by Shakhrai S. and B. Sheinis. A national leader was formed as a manager in the team incorruptible tribune of the people A. Sobchak, one of the recognized leaders of the democratic movement in the USSR. The veterans of "Free Russia" not just simply "overlooked" Putin - they nurtured him and gave him all the tools of unlimited power.

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In other words, I believe that Putin’s coming to power and the subsequent establishment of the country's corporate authoritarian government, even in small measure is not an accident. Putinism origins lie in the economic, domestic and foreign policy of new Russia since its foundation - and the current Democrats cannot blame the others for this situation.

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First, in terms of the economy, we should pay attention to what we considered the main merit of power in the 1990s - for privatization. Conveying large enterprises into private hands almost for nothing, the government has for years set down in the country a system whereby homegrown oligarchs got an advantage over any new players, who had to build new capacity and then "beat" their costs, while domestic "home life "gratuitous use of assets. As a consequence, in the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union built a refinery and a cement factory, no new businesses in metallurgy and mechanical engineering. Even oil and gas production remained at the same level. In China, instead of the privatization retained state control of large companies, but allowed its own and foreign investors to build new facilities, today 4 of the 100 largest companies by capitalization work mostly on foundations older than 1989; in Russia - 74. Here comes the lack of demand for new technologies, and "commodity dependence." In fact, the Democrats of the 1990s did not use the initiative of Russian and foreign investors for development: private enterprise has become an instrument of social, rather than economic transformation - it has redistributed social wealth, but did not provide its increase (the latter was a result of increase in oil prices in the 2000s years).


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Secondly, domestic democrats of the 1990s were not too democratic. Having won a free election even in Soviet times, they were doing everything possible to maintain their positions of power. Critical points were the events of 1993 (local outbreak of the Civil War, but also the beginning of irreversible changes in the system of law enforcement agencies) and the 1996 elections, when only total consolidation of the political and financial elite of the country against the backdrop of a series of declarative steps (agreement with separatists in Chechnya and to prepare for the establishment of the Union state of Russia and Belarus) and the palace intrigues helped President Yeltsin to win in the second round of the presidential election. 1993-1996 years were the period of completion of the "orgy of democracy" in the country. On the one hand, they adopted “superpresidential” Constitution, which gave the head of state is almost extraordinary powers. It abolished the independence of the Prosecutor's Office and the Constitutional Court; formed a unified financial and bureaucratic oligarchy that worked to preserve the current government. On the other hand, the main focus of political and ideological rhetoric was removed from the values of freedom at the "lack of alternatives" (almost an analogue of the current "stability"), the approval of the sovereignty and power of the state, search for "national idea." Russia began to restore the pre-revolutionary character of the empire (Christ the Savior Cathedral, the burial of the remains of family of the last sovereign), and even paid out of the tsarist government debt. I repeat: there was no alternative power, the willingness to use force against opponents, the merger of money and bureaucracy and an apology for the past - all these critical foundations of Putin's governance style were perfected, they were laid in the most "democratic" years of Russia's recent history.

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Third, with the "democratization" of Russia of its "imperial" essence did not disappear. Although the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian Federation de facto unconditionally recognized the independence of the Baltic States only. "Controlled instability," which is now applied to Ukraine, was tested against many post-Soviet countries. Russia was a direct party to the conflict in Moldova, during which "Transnistria" appeared. It clearly supported separatism in Georgia, including Ajaria, and provided direct support to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The famous call of Yeltsin to Shevardnadze after the attempt on his life  (February 9, 1998) clearly pointed to the fact that Russia wanted to influence all the important geo-political decisions made in the former Soviet space. The annexation of Crimea would not be possible in 2014, if since 1994 the Russian political elite did not create the feeling among the population that the peninsula is not a part of Ukraine. Of course, a very special place in the Russian agenda that time occupied Chechnya, marching under the banner of preserving the unity of the country, it in many respects formed a request for a "strong hand" (while granting this territory independence, formally proclaimed even during the existence of the USSR certainly it would support force focused on the construction of a new society in the country, rather than a strong state - here it is possible to remember that the main proponent of ending the war there was Boris Nemtsov).

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Fourth, the idea of integration with the West (the creation of the notorious "Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok"), which in the last years of Gorbachev was actually elevated to the rank of state ideology, the new Russia very quickly "wilted." The government did not try to apply for membership in the European Union (formally constituted in January 1992) and NATO. Concluded in 1994, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Russia and the European Communities essentially did not contain indications that the changes in Russia could lead to its integration into the EU. If we carefully analyze the performance of the Russian leaders in the 1990s, we can see that it was from 1993 to 1996, the concept of "involvement" in the Western world completely given way to ideas of "collaboration" and "partnership", which corresponds to the understanding of the elite of the sovereignty of values Russia as a fundamental basis of their political and economic domination over the country.

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I believe that the Russian Federation has only a very short period of time - from the time when the democratic Russian government acted even in the framework of the Soviet Union, and to the end of 1993 - had a chance to form the country's responsible political class, based on European values and practices, the division and the separation of powers. In 1993 - 1997 the power became aware of the need to cleanse itself from the strongest supporters of democracy and create conditions for the retention of power. In 1997-1998, a new state ideology was treating the population as a redneck.

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In the same extent in Soviet history, thousands of historical, ideological and practical strands bind the era of Stalin and Lenin in Russian history, there is an unbridgeable relationship with Putin and Yeltsin eras. And that brings me to the final idea. Politicians and activists, "beamed" in the land of Russia in the 1990s and are now trying to present themselves as the opposition, are not worth of the support of those who hoped to see Russia free legal European state. New Russia will be built without the people who ran it in the 1990s or 2000s.

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