‘Russia may cut itself off completely from the West,’ Sergey Medvedev says

Local troops of Putin's Youth Army on parade in the city of Sochi, 2017. The Russian Defense Ministry founded the "Youth Army" troops for children from 8 to 18 years old in 2016. (Photo: privetsochi.ru)

Local troops of Putin's Youth Army on parade in the city of Sochi, 2017. The Russian Defense Ministry founded the "Youth Army" troops for children from 8 to 18 years old in 2016. (Photo: privetsochi.ru) 

Russia

Edited by: A. N.

Historian Sergey Medvedev, author of the 2020 book The Return of the Russian Leviathan, says that he “does not exclude that Russia may fully close itself off from the West,” reject the bases of modernity, and become something like Belarus given that there is little resistance among the Russian population to the Kremlin’s drive in that direction.

Sergei Medvedev

What is already taking place, the HSE scholar says, is the formation of “a medieval strata-based society” where people’s legal status depends on their membership in one or another and where these are almost completely fixed (desk-russie.eu; in Russian at graniru.org).

“The main aspect of bourgeois revolutions was the establishment of equality of all before the law,” Medvedev says. “But in Russia this equality has been taken away from people” and “the country has become one of total inequality.” Worse, this has been accepted by the overwhelming majority of the population.

Ever fewer Russians say that what the Kremlin has done to Alexei Navalny is wrong, a trend which “shows that people accept the state’s right to use force in relation to a citizen” and that the people recognize and accept “their own lack of rights.” Moreover, there has been “a normalization of force and terror” because of the state’s use of it.

According to Medvedev, “Russia is proceeding along the Belarusian path.” That country, despite is modernized aspects, has been “transformed into a terrorist state, and there is no guarantee that Russia will not go along precisely the same path.”

Those Russians who oppose this trend can emigrate; but if they remain in their own country, they either have to be willing to face severe consequences or adapt. Few will choose the first, and most will simply try to get along, given that the standard of living is not that bad for most.

Russian military instructors train local troops of Putin's children "army" to use combat weapons in occupied Crimea. The Russian Defense Ministry founded <i>Yunarmia</i> ("Youth Army") troops for children aged from 8 to 18 years old across Russia and Russia-occupied territories in 2016, two years after Russia's anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula. Photo: social media

Russian military instructors train local troops of Putin’s children “army” to use combat weapons in occupied Crimea. The Russian Defense Ministry founded Yunarmia (“Youth Army”) troops for children aged from 8 to 18 years old across Russia and Russia-occupied territories in 2016, two years after Russia’s anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula. Photo: social media

The possibilities for the West to do something are severely limited, as “any dollar or euro received from abroad may lead to the persecution of an individual or organization.” Consequently, what is needed is the formation of “new centers of Russian culture in which the intellect of the nation will be preserved.” And these centers will be abroad.

Inside Russia, the Kremlin has created and imposed a quasi-religious cult of militarism and war. In Soviet times, people said “let there not be war.” Now, Russians are encouraged to think that they can repeat their victory.

“The cult of Victory [in WW2] has been transformed into a chauvinist and militarism cult of war with elements of a religious cult.”

In fact, Medvedev argues, “this is more than a religion; this is a government ideology” despite the constitutional ban against such things.

Children performing in an official Victory Day ceremony, “We Are the Heirs of the Victory,” organized by the occupation administration in Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea, April 19, 2020. Photo: Krymr.org (RFE/RL)

Children performing in an official Victory Day ceremony, “We Are the Heirs of the Victory,” organized by the occupation administration in Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea, April 19, 2020. Photo: Krymr.org (RFE/RL)

When Vladimir Sorokin wrote The Day of the Oprichnik in 2006, his vision of such an anti-utopia in Russia seemed grotesque and unimaginable. But now what he predicted is becoming true, especially as “Russia is becoming the younger brother of China, its vassal,” and as China is filled with hatred to the West.

The only limiting factor is that “in Russia, as always, the cruelty of law will be softened by the fact that it won’t always be enforced. This will not be a dictatorship of the North Korean type or an ideological one like Iran. It will be a corrupt thieving post-modernist Russian dictatorship.”

This can go on for a long time, Medvedev says; but when oil runs out and the regime has to react, one can hope for change. In the immediate future, however, the situation in Russia will be “terrible and funny at one and the same time.”

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Edited by: A. N.

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