Putin and His Entourage Can’t Imagine People Can Protest on Their Own

Protester in Yerevan, Armenia, taking part in mass protests against high electricity rates, June 22, 2015 (original photo by Vahram Baghdasaryan)

Protester in Yerevan, Armenia, taking part in mass protests against high electricity rates, June 22, 2015 (original photo by Vahram Baghdasaryan) 

Analysis & Opinion, Armenia

Vladimir Putin and his fellow siloviki are again showing, in the case of Armenia as they have in Ukraine, the limitations of their worldview, according to Igor Eidman. They simply cannot imagine that people can and do protest on their own and, consequently, he and they are always seeking to identify the supposedly hidden “’hand of the West.’”

In the Russian elite today, the Moscow commentator says, “people who have emerged from the special services are playing a leading role” from Putin on down. Such “narrow specialists often think exclusively within the framework of their own profession” and treat very different problems as one and the same.

In particular, Eidman continues, they are inclined to view everything that happens through a paranoid lens in which their colleagues in the special services of other countries are responsible, a view that reflects their own self-assessment but that gets in the way of understanding the world as it is.

Such people, he continues, “simply cannot imagine that people are capable of protesting against a government of their own free will to seek changes, democracy and so on. In their picture of the world, the special services of competitor countries must stand behind all such events.”

“This corporate narrowness of thought to a significant degree defined Putin’s attitude toward the Kyiv Maidan,” leading him and the Kremlin to “seriously” think that their “American colleagues” were behind everything happening in Ukraine. That fed “their professional self-regard” but otherwise got in the way of even Russia’s national interests.

One result of this was that their “tilting at windmills” led to “a real war” and real victims. “Let us hope,” Eidman says, “that the Chekist psychosis concerning events in Armenia will not have such terrible consequences” and cause Moscow once again to get involved in the uncritical defense of its allied government and the suppression of the Armenian population.

In Armenia as elsewhere, the Kremlin “considers every manifestation of popular dissatisfaction against its allies as the result of an American conspiracy. This of course is absolute nonsense,” Eidman says. “But undoubtedly, these events are being viewed in Russia with great concern and the fear that Armenia will cease to be a Russian ally and reorient itself toward the West.”

A more dispassionate analysis of the situation, the Moscow commentator says, would show that there are no real preconditions for such a change in Armenia’s geopolitical alignment.  “Armenia is very dependent on Russia’s position regarding the Karabakh conflict,” and Russian businesses have “very strong positions” in that south Caucasus country.

But if Moscow misreads the situation and acts according to its own lights, Eidman’s analysis suggests, the Russian government could push the situation in exactly the direction it assumes is true, allowing the Armenian government to ignore the complaints of its own people and driving the Armenian nation away from Moscow despite everything.

Edited by: Paula Chertok

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  • puttypants

    Putin and his regime are frightening because they are paranoid and think USA is out to get them. Paranoid leaders are dangerous.

  • The truth

    Russia and its president is colonisator, with tanks and green men , that is all , nothing more to give to anyone !

  • LazyB
  • Nowhere Girl

    Exactly. This is what was also said in the recent article on the “spectre of Ukrainian ‘fascism'”: “This was part of the larger conspiracy theory that the anti-government
    protests were inspired by the West, specifically the US, to further
    Western expansionism and the enlargement of NATO and to undermine
    Russia’s standing in its sphere of influence. This conspiracy theory
    eliminated Ukrainians as such from the geopolitical equation, depriving
    them of any agency.”. I also wrote something similar in a diary entry (yup, I write a lot more about politics and philosophy than about “what I did on that and that day”): “[I will argue against the historiosophy of Russian trolls, because] what is at stake here is faith in political agency of ‘ordinary people'”.
    You know why I love Ukraine? Because I remain in its debt: it was the Orange Revolution that acted as a spark for my idea that “everything is political”. That politics isn’t just a matter of games that the great and wealthy play, it’s also a matter of our everyday lives – anyone of us can (and does!) make political choices in everything zhe does. This is exactly political agency of “the People”.

  • Brent

    It’s ironic the neo-Soviet Union blames the U.S. and NATO for not ‘respecting it’ since the break up of the first Soviet Union but fails to give them credit for helping make Russia the most prosperous it has been during that same period by allowing Russia into the G8 and the WTO.

    Now that Russia is in decline due to Putin’s policies of aggression, theft and murder, they will go in recession and have no one to blame but themselves.

    • Czech Friend

      I say total isolation until they crawl back begging on their knees. Only fair.

  • Vol Ya

    Putin wants to destroy Ukraine and every other nation out there including Armenia. Putin doesn’t care about the people of Armenia or Ukraine.
    Putin is afraid that Ukraine might turn into a successful nation, free of
    its soviet past and corruption. a nation that guarantees personal freedom and
    freedom of the press. That is what worries putin the most, that Ukraine’s
    success might cause the people of russia to question why they continue to live
    in a country that is run like a dictatorship where people have no freedom of
    speech, and the country is full of corruption. Eventually the Arab spring will
    arrive in russia too and putin knows it.

  • Vol Ya

    Why does putin want to destroy Ukraine. Because he is afraid that Ukraine might turn into a successful nation, free of its soviet past and corruption. a nation that guarantees personal freedom and freedom of the press. That is what worries putin the most, that Ukraine’s
    success might cause the people of russia to question why they continue to live
    in a country that is run like a dictatorship where people have no freedom of
    speech, and the country is full of corruption. Eventually the Arab spring will
    arrive in russia too and putin knows it