Putin at the head of the procession in the Red Square by the Russian team for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi (Image: sport-express.ru)
One of the most important consequences of the current doping scandal, Kseniya Kirillova says, is that it undercuts those who currently like to say that Vladimir Putin was moving in the right direction before he decided to seize Crimea and intervene in Ukraine’s Donbas, a view that implies a possible easy reversal of today’s ill fortune.
The current scandal shows, the US-based Russian analyst argues, that “pre-war Russia was different from today’s much less than [many] had thought and thus the war becomes not an accidental error but a logical result of the development” of Russia under Putin.
To be sure, Kirillova continues, “the current state of Russian society since the invasion of Ukraine has changed beyond recognition … ‘Pre-Crimean’ society did not know such a level of lies and aggression, there weren’t repressions for reposts, all the insanity of current laws, and so much false propaganda.”
But despite that, she says,
“it would be more precise to say” that with the Crimean Anschluss, Russia was not changed so much.” Instead, its real nature was put on display in all its horrific dimensions, dimensions that many had busied themselves with denying from the first days of Putin’s rule when the apartment buildings were blown up and the Chechen war restarted.
Russians and many others besides did not want to face up to the Putin reality from the outset of “false elections, false democracy, false sports victories, false stability that crumbled with the first vacillation of oil prices, false love of peace, and false and repeatedly rewritten history.”
Was there anything genuine in pre-Crimea Putinist Russia? If there was the same pattern of crimes that were even more clearly on display after the Anschluss, Kirillova says. “Only we didn’t notice much of this because it was hidden by more capably made fakes. But the war tore off all these former masques” and revealed how fake they were and remain.
That is why the doping scandal is so important: it focuses the attention of Russians and the world back to a time when so many assumed that Putin was basically doing the right thing. Now, there is no basis for anyone to do so. And this loss of illusions is going to define how Russians and others consider Putin from now on.
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