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The National Guard of the Russian Federation (Rosgvardia) has severely dispersed those inconsiderable in number rallies, which did not even endanger the regime. Every one in five was detained in Moscow, including eighth-grade students. This means that the regime has designated its reactionary vector: the dissents will be pursued even more senselessly and mercilessly than before (five riot police per one schoolchild), repressions will be toughened, increased in numbers and even more devoid of meaning.
Russia has finally established a regime of the state lawlessness, which has two components. Citizens never know which law (even the most unlawful one) they violate: this allows to keep people in constant fear and force them to abandon attempts to undertake anything, even within the limits of permissible. Usually, democratic regimes differ from the authoritarian ones by a simple conventional scheme: in terms of the first one, everything is possible, except those things that are forbidden; in the second, you can do nothing except what is allowed. Under Putin's regime, everything is possible and nothing can be done until the executive (not even legislative) authorities have decided otherwise. See the example of Ulyukaev and Magomedov (Russian oligarchs Ziyavudin and Magomed Magomedov, who control the Summa holding and own assets in the energy, transport, agricultural and telecommunication sectors – Ed.), decisions on the political cases: some are imprisoned for reposting, others are allowed to publish the original post. But strictly until the authorities decide otherwise.
This implies the second essence of the state lawlessness of Putin’s regime: the executive authorities do not longer even need a formal reason for persecution and repression. Three years ago, the criminal case required a crime and evidence. Alexey Ulyukayev's trials lacked evidence and testimony from a key witness. In the case of Kirill Serebrennikov (described as one of Russia's leading theatre directors – Ed.), the absurdity is even stronger: the prosecutor's office insists that a play, attended by thousands of people, did not even take place.
Protests in Moscow were dispersed and people were beaten not only by the soldiers of Rosgvardia, but also by the Cossacks of the Central Cossack Army, trained for the money of Sobyanin's mayor's office. This means that those who disagree will also be wrestled with the most terrible methods by the hands of the worst scumbags, dressed as the Cossacks, as the Soviet army soldiers, or as paras. In the event of a crisis, the twisted should be on the side of power and should have some whipping boys. And those whipping boys are not the guilty party of the crisis, but the dissidents - the opposition, gays, hipsters, whoever.
Putin did not go to the Kremlin along his traditional route from the country residence through a city, blocked from the jubilant crowds. This time he overcame a distance of 200 meters - from his sanctum to the Kremlin Palace. Of course, this is probably due to the transport on which the inaugurated was traveling – despite all the rhetoric about the “laughing Iskanders” and other import substitution, it is unlikely that anyone would venture to use the domestic car (even if it was manufactured for 190.56 million U.S. dollars, even if it is externally indistinguishable from Rolls Royce Phantom. Moreover, such a man obsessed with his own safety and panic fear of being killed, like Vladimir Putin.
But another explanation also seems to be that Putin finally broke away from reality and does not want to have any connection with the people, even such a symbolic one as driving through the city in a cortege on the day of the inauguration. And this is bad, because another example of the president, who shows his face to the suffering via video (as a concert), is Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
In the US you can come to the White House so close that you might see the Oval Office. And the entrance to the Congress buildings, where the working offices of congressmen and senators are located, is absolutely free, they only check the security; there are no passport checks. Anyone can go to the Rayburn Building, and enter the office of a congressman. The entrance to the hearings and meetings is open.
Physical closeness to the people makes officials and politicians feel directly responsible for their actions. Putin does not feel any responsibility, because physically he is isolated from the crowd, which can be very scary. Moreover, when you cannot get rid of the faces of Hussein and Gaddafi during their last minutes…
The more Russia turns into a mix of Turkmenistan, Venezuela, and North Korea, the tougher will be the response of the West. Yesterday I have attended a business dinner, where the assistant to the senator said that the issue of disconnection of Russia from SWIFT was on the agenda a month ago. He added that new sanctions were prepared.
In contrast to the ideas within Russia about how the West sees Russia (as a carrier of the idea of the Russian world, as a global power, as an alternative to the West and other nonsense), the United States has finally realized what Russia really is: an ordinary kleptocracy. That is a regime that uses power to increase personal wealth and political influence, through the misappropriation of public funds. Personal enrichment is the only idea of Putin’s regime. Everything else is just the methods and means of translating this simple idea into practice.
Russian kleptocrats, these part-time patriots, prefer to keep the treasured state funds in the West. Because, surprise-surprise, their money is protected by the law from state raiding (which takes place in Russia) only in democratic countries. In Russia, you can steal money with the same ease you might lose it under Putin’s regime (and of course, you can lose your money if it is honestly earned).
Therefore Putin's kleptocrats were taking money away from Russia and will continue doing it. According to the estimates of the US Treasury, unofficially voiced in Washington, there are Russian assets worth $ 800 billion there. For comparison, Russia's GDP is $ 1.2 trillion.
The United States has, finally, realized that dirty Russian (like Chinese and Arab) money destroy the foundations of a democratic American society. And the bureaucratic machine is moving: sanctions cannot be stopped now; kleptocrats will be caught by the hand, and eventually will happen at the system level.
Americans, of course, always emphasize that this is not the struggle of Bolshevism with the rich; normal, honest Russian business, like from any other country, is welcomed in the US. And it really exists, you know. However, this is something very rare. I mean those who do not invest in buying tasteless residences in Palm Beach, like Dmitry Rybolovlev, or in pro-Putin think tanks, but in high technologies, for example.
In general: Russia has the rosiest prospects for the next six years. Rosy like the Sharik dog from the famous joke had.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.