Staunton, October 30 – Every time Vladimir Putin makes even the slightest suggestion that he is moderating his position, there is a chorus of people who argue that he is about to scrap most or even all of his recent policies and return to where he supposedly was at the beginning of his time as president.
But such hopes – and it is entirely likely that Putin himself is interested in promoting them to keep the West off balance and interested in making a deal with some new “new” Putin – are almost certainly misplaced. According to Aleksandr Skobov, there is little chance he will stop his drive toward fascism and allow Russia to become again a normal country.
In a commentary for the Kasparov.ru portal, the Moscow commentator says that he does not believe “even for a second” that Putin will return his regime “to some kind of ‘bourgeois normalcy.” Instead, he argues, “the objective course of events will push the regime further in the direction of fascism” (kasparov.ru/mterial.php?id=58137B7aADF2FE).
Moreover, Skobov says, he does not believe in the possibility that “there will appear in the ruling elite some kind of health-thinking progressive forces.” That group of people is so thoroughly compromised that “there is no one in it with whom one can enter into a dialogue” about a better future.
But those just below that level, he suggests, are very different and may include those who are deeply disaffected with the ruling elite. “In this milieu, it is entirely possible that disappointment in Putinism will begin to appear and at first take the form of a striving to “cleanse from perversions Putinist legality.”
Up to the present, he continues, “all attempts to construct a certain moderate ‘Putinism with a human face’ have failed.” Those interested in doing so have been so attacked by the regime for even the most modest suggestions that they have moved away from it into positions of silence or of radical opposition.
But they are the place to look for the emergence of an opposition within the regime – at least among those who oppose the use of repressive measures. And Skobov points to the comments of Moscow blogger Kristina Potupchik as an example of such people. See her posts at krispotupchik.livejournal.com/694549.html and krispotupchik.livejournal.com/694523.html.
The place not to look is higher up the latter or to Putin. Neither those immediately around him nor the Kremlin leader himself is going to “reinvent” or “reset” the regime in a way that would meet even the most basic humane criteria.