A little over two months ago, Alfred Kokh asked the following question on his Facebook page:
“…it seems that Russia has a huge margin, before the coming danger of the disintegration of all social institutions.”
“But the fact is that our understanding about the stability of a society and its ability to face the challenges of the outside world is very superficial and unconvincing. Sometimes it seems that the the edge is much closer than it actually is.”
“And we still poorly know how society works, in order to be able to accurately predict the limits of its tolerance.“
I was reminded of this post when I saw Andrei Kolesnikov’s recent interview in Ekho Moskvy:
The people need to be scared, to be kept off-balance, by the regime, Kolesnikov says. The current situation with the falling GDP, 15% inflation, and the unstable ruble makes this necessary “in the abstract sense”. Mass repression is not needed. Russia is “not yet a totalitarian regime”.
“The authoritarian regime demonstrates just what it is capable of…”, emphasizing its cruelty, and targeting various peoples and groups, emphasizing its arbitrariness.
“Of course, this signal is understood by the public in such a way that it is better continue to behave calmly, it is better not to twitch, not to offend the Lord, to be quiet. Do not join any protests. To adapt to the life as it is.”
Meanwhile, small demonstrations are taking place, as Paul Goble notes:
“Novyye izvestiya” reports today that Russians took to the streets in Volzhsky, Kalach-na-Donu, Blagoveshchensk, Chita and Birobidzhan not to protest this or that action but rather the decline in living standards as a result of central government policies (newizv.ru/politics/2015-08-31/226365-banalno-net-deneg.html).
Valery Borshchev, a former Duma deputy and rights activist, says that “the higher leadership of the country receives information about all protest actions and about [this] change in their character. But it is necessary to point out at the present time the Center really doesn’t have a genuine chance to provide help to the regions. For the banal reason that there is no money.”