Staunton, May 6 – Various recent polls show that Russians now trust Vladimir Putin and his entourage far less than they did only a few years ago, but a more important loss of trust in that country has passed largely unnoticed, Sergey Shelin argues. That is the Kremlin’s loss of trust in the Russian people.
In a post on the Rosbalt news portal yesterday, the Russian commentator suggests that the Putin regime “no longer counts on its subjects” to love it or feels compelled to show any love for them, a shift that presents certain problems given that the country stands before presidential elections in March 2018 (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/05/05/1613449.html).
But those problems, he suggests, only highlight the existence of the rulers’ distrust of the ruled. And the regime’s efforts to suggest it does care about the people by talking about the May 2012 decrees and pension indexing only call to mind the joke that “if the people loses the trust of the authorities, then democratic principles require that the people should resign” or be replaced.
This loss of trust in the people by the authorities is perhaps most clearly seen by the decision of Vladimir Putin to jointly with Patriarch Kirill to erect a memorial in the Kremlin to Grand Duke Sergey who was killed in 1905, an action the Kremlin leadership said promotes the strengthening of civic unity by condemning the use of force against any target.
That contrasts with the Putin regime’s silence about the murder four weeks earlier in 1905 of several hundred peaceful Russian subjects in what has long been known as Bloody Sunday. Each of those who was killed at that time “had exactly the same right to life as did the uncle of the emperor.”
But “our top people are so combined in their thinking with the top people of the past that the very idea of displaying even ritual respect to the simple people who suffered at the hands of the authorities even in the past is absolutely alien to them,” the Rosbalt commentator continues. Thus, there are no new monuments to the ordinary victims of stardom: they “don’t count.”
“Today’s bosses are interested only in the problems of bosses. Today those are their own; in the past, these were the problems of previous generations of leading people.” And “this isolation from the subjects, in combination with an absolute lack of trust in them is constantly giving rise to incidents,” sometimes funny but sometimes tragic.
Such attitudes on the part of today’s rulers reflect their origins in “the corporate culture” of the security services in which “trust in ‘one’s own’ is partial, but to ‘outsiders’ completely non-existent.” Such a system may exist for a long time, but it won’t be a happy one for either rulers or ruled.