Expert: Putin’s Russia now ‘one large KGB special op’

Yevhen Holovaha, deputy head of the Kyiv Institute of Sociology.

Yevhen Holovaha, deputy head of the Kyiv Institute of Sociology. 

2015/03/01 • Analysis & Opinion

Russia’s problem is not Vladimir Putin but rather that “the special services have begun to rule that country and to transform it “into one large special service and its activities into one large special operation,” something even Stalin never permitted, according to Yevhen Holovaha, deputy head of the Kyiv Institute of Sociology.

This is just one of the conclusions the scholar offers in the course of a wide-ranging interview published today on the occasion of the first anniversary of Putin’s acknowledgement of the use of Russian forces inside Ukraine, about conditions in Ukraine, and in the Russian Federation.

According to Holovaha, the last year in Ukraine’s history is most similar to the period of the Ukrainian Peoples Republic after 1917. Then too, Ukrainians wanted “dignity and independence but got a tragedy. Now is also a tragedy,” but whether it will be an “optimistic” one as some say or not depends on whether Ukrainian leaders can learn from their mistakes.

They do not have much time, he argues, because “if in past years we could allow ourselves to experiment, now there is no such possibility.”

That does not mean that Ukraine is about to disappear from the map of the world, as some fear. “Ukraine will continue in some form.” But the question is “in what borders, with what kind of a government and in what form?” Putin’s goal is to marginalize it, and such “a marginalization of Ukraine is the worst prospect.”

The past year has led to a rise in civic activism and volunteering, and it has not “led to a final disappointment” nor to a situation in which there would be a mass rejection of the ideals of the Maidan. One can only be glad about those things, even if they are in many ways the product of war which inevitably consolidates a society.

But, he continues, at the same time Ukrainians are “at the edge of nervous exhaustion,” and the level of optimism about the future has fallen significantly since last summer: Polls show this level down by 20 percent, the sociologist says. And both the deepening economic crisis and the shortcomings of the government are only making that worse.

Holovaha said that when he learned that the Ukrainian revolution was “a revolution of dignity,” he immediately observed that “dignity costs people very dearly.” Those who insisted on it in tsarist and Soviet times, paid heavily for doing so. And one must recognize that people cannot live on dignity alone; they need other things are to survive.

The Ukrainian government since the Maidan “unfortunately” has not been more open than was its predecessor, Holovaha continues. “There is no normal conversation with its citizens, with us even today things are absolutely Soviet as far as the openness of the state is concerned.

The sociologist says that he understands how difficult it is for leaders raised in the Soviet past or even the post-Soviet period to change their ways of doing business, but what is a particular matter of concern, he suggests, is that many of the new people who have entered the government have assimilated these earlier values rather than introducing new ones.

But the situation in Russia is much worse. “There is nothing new in the state system of present-day Russia. It is entirely a throwback to the Soviet model,” with its imperial schemes, symbolism, mass psychology, and the like, he says. That has allowed Russia to maintain the social order, but it requires enemies and “absolutely contradicts” the European path Ukraine has chosen.

Russia always was and always will be “imperialist and chauvinist,” Holovaha says, regardless of who is in office. The only question is how many resources it has to devote to those goals. When it is rich, “it will continue expansion … when it is poor and weak, it will gather its forces and not try to change borders.”

The murder of Boris Nemtsov, he suggests, was one of a series of “ritual murders on symbolic dates. If you recall, Anna Politkovskaya was killed ‘on Putin’s birthday.’ I believe,” Holovaha continues, “that the murder of Nemtsov on the eve of an anti-war march was no coincidence.”

As to the possibility that Russia will disintegrate into several republics, the Kyiv sociologist says, the threat exists, although it is far from clear whether Ukrainians would benefit from it and Ukrainians should be skeptical about anyone who suggests this or any other outcome is “’inevitable.’” Such predictions should not be taken seriously.

Regarding leadership, he says, there is no question that Putin is a leader. But he has done little more than rely on “prejudices, stereotypes and xenophobia.” That almost always works, has given him an enormous popularity rating and the chance to do whatever he likes as far as the Russian people are concerned.

As for Poroshenko, Holovaha says, he is “a transitional leader” in “a transitional time.” So far, he has pursued a policy of “maneuvering without definite successes and without an explanation of his motives and goals.” Given the challenges one can understand why, but to be successful he will have to move beyond such a tactical approach.

Edited by: Russell & Andrei N.

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  • Charles J. Kollman

    Why does this take place in Russia now and in the past. I always hear from Russians that they are loving people with Souls and that they are very smart and know what goes on. They read much in books papers and magazines. They look at Americans as being brain dead. Russia and The Soviet Union in this case have always only defended they are never the aggressor. Well one thing they are correct about is that say since 1945 Americans have become soft fat lazy gullible naive and dumb. They now look to the government to take care of all things for them. Socialism has taken over America without firing a shot.We have rotted from the head down.

    • Michel Cloarec

      It is too difficult for an american to understand the russian way of mind. They are another race with hundred of years without rules which could seem like democracy !

      • Charles J. Kollman

        Simple site to find out how many Americans immigrated to Russia. How many Russians immigrated to Israel.

        • LorCanada

          I’ve never heard of Americans emigrating to Russia. That’s news. It’s usually the other way around.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            I am a natural born Citizen who has served his Country with pride and Honor. I believe that the law of the land is The Constitution, it is not a land of progressive liberal socialists that are now for the most part in control of my government. People like this also own and control the so called free news media. People like this also are in control of the US. education system. They all have been programing and brainwashing the now soft fat lazy naive gullible Americans who do not remove their ass from the sofa and look to the government to take care of them. I only asked for a number meaning people that immigrated from the US. to Russia there must be a few. Also i pointed out that the people now in Russia don’t look at Putin or the Russian government for their problems they blame The US. for all there problems. Canada was asked if it wanted to be the 14 Th. Colony when the 13 south of you would fight the English for Independence, but Canada chose not to.

          • puttypants

            Charles Kollman…I agree with you that slowly but surly America has become more socialist and becoming even more so. However, you have to look at the circumstances…lower wages one person can’t sustain a family. When times are good and people get decent salaries to support their families no one will go to socialism. I think you have to look at the 1% who take too much and give little in return. I am far from being a socialist and I agree with you far too many people in America are soft and lazy and frankly stupid. They have no idea how tough life can really be. Even welfare recipients here get free cell phones and cable TV. And I think they look at the European model of socialism as something to aspire to. What they don’t know is that most socialist countries are finding that big government and lots of freebies are making their systems unsustainable.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            I agree 100% with you. Back in time meaning say around 1868 this is when my Grandfather’s Mother and Father on my Mothers side immigrated from Germany to The US. Charles and Christina they lived in Brooklyn, NY. in an area know as Williamsbug. At this point in time the flats were known as cold water flats. Three families to a floor and one toilet per floor. These flats were also known as Rail Road Flats, because it was one room after another in line most had a kitchen and three rooms. In the kitchen was a coal stove for cooking making the kitchen warm and on the side of the stove was a tank for making hot water. Everything was in English not like today also in Spanish. There was no welfare or government free hand outs. The Europeans coming here wanted to get away with what was in Europe America was a leader, but now here it is do what Europe does. I worked for Pan American Airways from 21June63 to Dec3,1991 when they stopped flying and all lost their jobs. I went from a $ 60,000.00 a year job to zipo nothing and no benefits and my pension cut by 60%. I worked at what was there to make a dollar and pay the bills. I got lucky because i was working at it to land a job in the NY. State courts, But the pay was one third of what i made at Pan Am and in eleven years working for the State did i come near in making $ 60,000.00. My Grandparents had a victory garden and chicken in the back yard. Today they want all things free and the Social government loves it, because this is the way progressives control The Country. Take away the TV. and the school system the government could not do shit, because these are their tools. For me the last honest President was Kennedy. I am not saying he did not make mistakes. But those after him are horrific. I believe Bush and Obama are on the top of the list. Carter LBJ Clinton and Reagan are not far behind. America is not a Democracy as they want us to believe. It is a REPRESENTATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC. I rest my case.

          • LorCanada

            Putin controls the media and he also pours $300 Million into his Russia Media Propaganda machine 24/7 that floods the internet and news sources with DISINFORMATION and WW2 slogans. Of course Pootie needs an enemy so that it will bolster up his ratings at home and present him as the champion of Russia’s future and all that stuff. The simpleminded ones believe what they hear but the true thinkers do not fall for Putin’s “spiel”.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            There are Americans that move to America and i just wanted to know how many and why. Yes i talk much about the negatives of The US. because there is so much of it. The young here that have had their brain programed along with i am sorry to say the white women are where Obama got his vote power from. It seem there are people here that believe i am pro Russian. I believe there are good Russians as well as Americans. I believe that the Soviet Union was a bad system that had two classes. The inner circle of the elite and the working slaves. I also know that maybe a person thought communism was good and supported it, but this did not mean you were a card carrying communist. Officers in the military had to be, but the rest were picked and chosen by the party and this is how they controlled the party. If you and others would see the emails i send out and oh yes and copy Senator Schumer Gillibrand and Congressman Peter King you would know me and understand me where i come from. Let me say i agree with you on Putin, but let me add one thing. Putin is smart and Obama is not. Obama says he went to collage and for what he has not shown records of it. There are sites showing him as a drug user and in organizations that are anti American. Also there are those you say he got money by being a prostitute meaning he liked other guys. My email address for those who want to see i hide nothing is….[email protected]
            Is there anything that you don’t understand. I am a member of the Oathkeepers and we will not obey unlawful orders. If you can come and take my guns and if it’s war you want let it start here and now. Live free or die.

          • LorCanada

            I’m a retired senior on west coast Canada and don’t indulge all that much in USA politics as we have enough ongoing with our own politicians so I only take a passing interest in activities south of the border.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Yes i understand different day same old crap. I am retired and now live in the east mid states. Hope come April 6 to ride to Florida..

        • Michel Cloarec

          Why should an american citizen moves to CCCPutin ?
          You crazy ? or against USA ? your new country

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Take a good look of what now lives in The USA. Because i ask how many people immigrate to Russia makes me against USA. No friend i support defend and preserve The Constitution something that Obama and the social Tyrants in my Government have not done. These people only look to collapse The US. and spread it’s wealth to Obama’s friends. Take a good long look at The Patriot Act that came from The Tyrant Bush that all from his moth was lies. Sorry friend i am not as free meaning my Liberty went out the window then in 1955. I think it’s time you wake up. Hello!!!!!!

          • John Magee

            You don’t know what you are talking about. The USA Constitution is alive and well. Freedom exists in the USA. Even with Obama and his leftist beliefs he hasn’t been able to make a dent in the USA’s freedoms. The USA is light years ahead of Putin’s Russia as far as freedom goes and always will be. The creativity of the Americans makes the Russia look pathetic. The USA’s great universities are where the world heads to get fine educations still and not to Russia. The USA is not perfect, they admit it, but Putin’s cesspool of a country imagines it is perfection when it most definitely is not! Putin offers weirdo’s on the far left and far right “hope”. He is a former KGB office and a thug who worked in the late 1980s along side the hated East German Stasi in Dresden. Putin is retrograde Soviet KGB bully who wants to create a new Russian empire within the old borders of the USSR and beyond. His problem is his neighbors want no parts of his megalomaniacal plans to become a new tsar.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Yes Putin is the bully no question about it. I fully understand what his goals are. I know more then most Americans do about our Constitution what it says what it means and why it is written like it is. Before Obama we have George Bush The Tyrant and in truth not very smart, but the people pulling his strings were. Go take a look at his family from Texas meaning his Grand father a US. Senator that like many other great Americans supported and dealt with the Nazis. It took an act of Congress to stop them. Bushes father was a great supporter of what is known as the New World Order. You may go back and hear his speeches. Yes we do have great institutions for learning, but they are also institutions of progressive liberal creativity and for it we have problems. Our Constitution is under attack and has been for a long time.But Bush did the most damage with the Patriot Act sounds good yes. Read it friend and see how much of your Liberty went down the [email protected] bowl and how it gives power to the big government. It sounds like the Soviet Union and that is because George had help writing it, from x KGB.people. The Act is the solution for the cause the cause is the war on Terror 9/11. Now it’s a go for the Red Flag and we know the WM D. in Iraq was a George lie.Right now Obama with the ATF. are trying to but a band on .223 and 5.56x45mm. ammo. They even tried using a UN. Treaty to ban people from baring arms. It was turned down in the Senate, but it was close. This was a violation against our Constitution this Treaty. The US. may have Treaties with other sovereign Nations, but the UN.is not it’s a member organization.Sign up for US. Senator Ran Paul to see and hear a true Patriot that is a US. Senator. Please don’t forget about FEMA. another arm of our government and check out what they are about and what they have done in the past. Strange that this arm was never an Act. passed by congress which makes it also unconstitutional, but the people in The House keep founding it. Oh and then there is NSA. reading our emails hearing what we have to say on our cell phones and looking and hearing us through the computer and TV. Plus the use of drones to check on us. The US. Constitution is alive but it is under attack. Hey Obama has no respect for our Constitution Flag Military We The People Jews and Christians. As he says i have a phone and a pen. The Muslim bastard is a radical Domestic Terrorist.

    • LorCanada

      Since you seem to only see the negative of USA, why not take a look at Russia’s negative side too. Russians live shorter lives, vodka is their comfort and killer, they are corrupt in their aspirations (anything to make money), they lack honest and integrity, etc. The Russian ruble has devalued at an alarming rate and their credit rating on the world market is now listed as “junk”. If you think Putin is such a great leader and popular, keep in mind that he is in control of the media, he has paid $300 Million to keep his Propaganda Machine operating 24/7 flooding the internet and news sources with his brand of narrowminded, WW2 slogans and disinformation. Nobody believes what Putin says anymore because he lies and denies everything, but we can see through his false facade. Putin? You can keep him!

    • John Magee

      Russians are dying of alcoholism, their male population has the lowest life expectancy of any country in the developed world, and they have had so many abortions over the past 80 years they aren’t replacing themselves. Russia is on its death bed and Putin knows it. Who was the major power which kept the USSR and its allies in the Warsaw pact from invading Western Europe from 1945-1991? Your generalization of Americans is foolish and naïve and stupid. The average American like the average person all over the world want to live their lives leading simple ordinary lives. To make it seems as though Americans are idiots I would be careful. The USA has some of the finest colleges and universities in the world. The world still flocks to the USA to go to those schools and NOT to Russia. The garbage which spews forth out of Hollywood and the USA pop culture is gobbled up by youth from London to Vladivostok. As much as I loath American pop culture it offers youth something which old, despotic, and stale countries like Russia can’t. Joy and hope. The USA is going through a difficult time with its present Marxist President but he will be gone in two years and hopefully a return to normalcy will occur. The USA is a Constitutional Republic, a nation of laws, which Americans admit is far form perfect. Russia is incapable of admitting mistakes. It has little stability and not a nation of freedom and justice under Putin. The 3rd world’s poor rush to live in the USA. Why aren’t they flooding into Russia these days? For the same reason they never wanted to live in the USSR. There is no freedom.

      • Charles J. Kollman

        Thank you.

  • joeblow55

    Let’s hope that the pancreatic cancer rumors are true and putin is soon meeting his soulmate lucifer in hell.