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Why Putin needs enemies of the people

Why Putin needs enemies of the people
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

If Russians “swallow” the Davidova case, then soon anyone and everyone can be arrested and imprisoned in  Russia.

The arrest in Vyazma of Svetlana Davidova, the mother of seven who is being accused of treason because of her call to the Ukrainian embassy, demonstrates that Russia is not returning to a Soviet  past that is familiar to many citizens of that country but rather to the Stalinism of 1937. To a time when anyone who committed a “wrong” action according to the Chekists (Soviet state security — Ed.) or who did nothing at all could be declared an enemy of the people

In Brezhnev’s time, nevertheless, it was different. The government was fighting with the political activists, but it dared accuse of spying only those who had access to secret information and who, at least theoretically, could have informed of something really valuable and important. This also used to be the case during Putin’s years.

davidovaThese are not the first accusations of treason. However, until now the main persons involved in similar cases were people who had access to secret information. The housewife Svitlana Davidova had no such access. She had simply noticed that the military unit that was based near her building had left and in a taxi bus  she heard the conversation of one of the officers of the unit. He, incidentally, was talking in a public place about his forthcoming deployment to war, and she shared her suspicions with the Ukrainian embassy. She did not recognize anything specific, was not on the watch for anything, did not eavesdrop. Every journalist receives dozens of similar messages in the social networks from all over Russia. After all, millions of people live in this country who hate war and Putin and are scornful of their crazed fellow citizens.

Let’s do the calculation: even if the ratings of the Russian president are as high as Russian opinion surveys report, outside of the Putin lovefest  there remains — in terms of the population — an entire European country. Actually it will be up to the residents of this “country” and not to the zombied-out  85 percent to change Russia and to govern it after the inevitable crash of the regime.

But then why arrest Davidova? To frighten the others? To show that everything is being listened to, viewed, recorded and that now the road from anti-war protest to jail consists of only a few steps? Once again, the accusations against Davidova are unfounded. She could not give anything away because she did not know anything secret and did not live in a closed city. I think all of this is the beginning of the return to the Gulag. It is important to understand that in Putin’s circle there are people who are convinced that the most effective economy is the one of the (concentration) camp. These people really do admire Stalin. As long as they had expensive oil they could do without the camps. But now that there is no money, they do not think about any reforms. They think about the camps.

If the Russians “swallow” the Davidova case, soon everyone will be arrested and imprisoned. Some for the wrong post in social networks. Others for the wrong phone call. Someone for unpatriotic talk in the street. Someone else over a neighbor’s testimony. And someone just like that. My grandmother’s sister was thrown out of the Komsomol in 1937 just because she once shared a bathroom with another woman — “an enemy of the people.” She did not say anything and did not phone anywhere. She simply washed. However, given those times, she was very lucky.

So, in a few years, Russian society will be divided again into those who are imprisoned and those who defend the country of the imprisoned and the guards. That is what the Soviet Union was. Russia, by the way, remained similar to it because it was primarily the guards and informers who survived, and they brought up their children and grandchildren in accordance with their art of “survival.” Putin himself came from such a family, as did most of his compatriots. But most of the Gulag prisoners remained in the Siberian taiga.

In one of the German publications recently I saw a photograph dedicated to the anniversary of the liberation of “Auschwitz” depicting the road to the extermination camp and the sign “this was Germany.” The Germans managed to understand what a nightmare they had created. And the Russians? Can you imagine such a photograph of the camp in Vorkuta or in Solovki with the sign “this was Russia” on the front page of a leading Russian magazine?

It is precisely because this is impossible that Russia has every likelihood of slipping into the Gulag.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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