By Vitaly Portnikov
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Russian changes occur through conspiracy or rebellion – senseless and merciless.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed amendments to the federal law “On meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets.” The essence of the change is simple – rallies must end no later than 22:00 hours [10pm], and then satisfied citizens should return home.
It’s clear why the Russian government needed these changes – the fear of Maidan! And the way Putin acts fully reflects his deep misunderstanding of the Ukrainian political process.
Maidan is not a mirror of disrespect for authority. On the contrary, it is a mirror of people’s respect for authority and their desire for a dialogue with it. Both in 2004 and 2014, there was strong opposition in the Ukrainian parliament, which had, in fact, won the parliamentary elections earlier, only ending up in the minority just because of the machinations of the presidential administration. Therefore, Maidan logically reflected the opinion of the majority, not the minority – and the government knew about that. Both in 2004 and 2014, the major decisions were made by the effective Parliament: after 2004, there weren’t even early parliamentary elections, and deputies still elected under Leonid Kuchma, finished their terms under Viktor Yushchenko.
There is nothing similar in Russia – neither opposition, nor parliamentary capacity for independent decisions, nor a society with hopes for the parliament. And there is no point in a Maidan, either. Russian changes occur either through a conspiracy where the head of state and their closest confidants become the victims (except for those who organized the conspiracy), or as a result of the famous Russian riot – senseless and merciless.
Putin, seeing Ukraine as a natural extension of Russia, fails to feel this distinction and continues to believe that the enemies of the regime are preparing a Maidan. But even the biggest mass rallies in the Russian capital – the only serious political center of the country – always ended and never turned into “Maidans.” Only a small group – if at that – was prepared to stay standing on the square, and it was brutally dispersed.
In Russia, there is no point in a Maidan, because the State Duma [Parliament] and the Federation Council are not capable of political initiative and are packed with marginal types and cowards, while the judiciary branch is entirely compromised by its venality, corruption and servility. Russians will not strive to delegate powers to parliament – they will want to dismantle the entire system to the ground. And in this sense, the need for a coup inside the inner elite circle, and for removal of Putin as a means of preserving the system, can begin to objectively mature. If those who are close to the president fail to stage this coup in time – or, more realistically, if Putin himself does not dare to reboot the elite entirely, replacing all those responsible for the imminent economic and political collapse of the country – then the time will come for the most senseless and merciless revolt on the ruins of the dying Russian state.
And the prohibition of night rallies has absolutely nothing to do with that.