Staunton, August 27 – Like its tsarist predecessors, the Russian government today has created a Frankenstein monster that may serve its short-term interests but that is already turning on its creators or at least promoting the kind of environment in which those not connected with the government will feel justified in using force in response.
Two weeks ago, Aleksey Gorbachev, a political observer for “Nezavisimaya gazeta,” writes, activists from SERB (“the South East Radical Bloc”) attacked a Solidarity picket and in the course of that event even struck a policemen, something caught on camera (ng.ru/politics/2016-08-26/3_radicals.html).
Attacks on police typically bring a rapid official response, but not in this case. On the one hand, Gorbachev says, the SERBs continue to act as if they do not expect to be punished – they were behind the attack on Yuliya Latinina; and on the other, the Moscow police have been unwilling to answer any questions even though required to do so within seven working days.
According to the journalist, their dilatory behavior has less to do with official unwillingness to talk about the suppression of dissent than about their desire to not speak about why they are “not defending the honor of their uniform” in a case when the law is clear and the evidence is overwhelming.
Nikolay Mironov, the head of the Moscow Center for Economic and Political Reforms, told Gorbachev that in the run up to the elections, the powers that be are so interested in attacking opposition groups that they are even willing to tolerate attacks on police by those carrying these out.
Not only is this a manifestation of “double standards,” Mironov says. But by itself, it “legitimates force that comes not from the state” but from non-state actors. Russian officials often criticize Ukraine for allowing a situation like that to arise there, insisting that such things never happen in Russia.
“But when force is not suppressed and in certain cases even permitted, then one should not be surprised by an increase in the number of violent crimes and postings on the Internet by criminals who are proud of their actions.” That is already quite often the case among youth gangs and groups.
“Pro-government movements are making deviant behavior the norm and thus deforming the principles of morality,” Mironov says. “Inaction on the part of the authorities is an indulgence which appears to be a kind of silent support. But the fact that these patriots can beat policemen strikes at the entire law-enforcement system.”