Russia’s Internet Revolution
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s article in the Oct. 3 Izvestia, titled “A New Integration Project for Eurasia,” received a spontaneous and hostile mass-review. In recent days, the Russian-speaking public has registered its distrust and dislike of the new policy by responding (on the Internet) to Putin’s article with a “#” sign, signifying a jail cell (as in Russian usage). In each response there follows a line, “Thanks to Putin….” Thousands upon thousands thank the former KGB officer for bringing back the Soviet Union; for Stalin and Brezhnev’s return; for winter to come and summer to go; for the world to never end and for the world to end. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions by this writing) of Russian speaking internet users have registered their dislike of the Eurasian Integration Project, using a cyrillic hashtag – “#спасибопутинузаэто.”
Putin is proposing a new “Eurasian Union,” suggestive of a reconstructed Soviet Union. This new formation is supposed to be a free market zone, linking East and West. But the subtext cannot be mistaken. The Kremlin wants to put the Soviet Humpty Dumpty together again. As the Kremlin’s front-man for Soviet regeneration, Putin is announcing a new common economic space for Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. These countries are going to be “integrated,” writes Putin. “The project … is a historic landmark not only for our three countries, but also for all post-Soviet states.” This “project,” will be launched on Jan. 1, 2012. But there is no fanfare. Apparently, nostalgia for the USSR is not what it used to be. And now, the ruble is falling, Libya has slipped away from Moscow, China is not buying natural gas at the Russian asking price, Ukraine has threatened a permanent break – and the totalitarian allies in Syria are barely clinging to life.
“We propose a model of a powerful supranational union capable of becoming one of the poles of the modern world…. First, we are not talking about recreating the Soviet Union,” Putin explained. “It would be naïve to try to restore or copy what is already past….” All the same, millions of Russians don’t believe him. They see a former KGB apparatchik dreaming of new glory days. Everyone remembers how Putin lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “tragedy of the twentieth century.” In this regard Putin’s pose has been, at times, a faint shadow of Hitler’s. He has bemoaned the Soviet Cold War defeat as Hitler bemoaned Germany’s defeat in the First World War. One may detect in Putin a hint of a “stab in the back” myth. As with Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia has embarked upon a rearmament program. And so, this new Eurasian Union, which has the red-brown flavor of a totalitarian revival, reminds us of marching into the Rhineland; perhaps with Anschluss in Ukraine; and with South Ossetia in place of the Polish Corridor. Although it seems that something has misfired in the Russian strategy. The plan is not coming together. The order is given, the policy is announced, and – withering mockery from the Russians themselves. As leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin is losing traction.
After writing the Izvestia article, Putin addressed Ukraine’s Western course: “What will Ukraine do? Sell a few more liters of milk to Europe?” Putin said that all Ukrainian industries will go bankrupt if Kiev joins the European Union. But the Ukrainian vice prime minister said, in response to Putin, that free cheese only “exists in a mousetrap.” The leader of every country, he added, wants to increase its sphere of influence. So Putin’s rhetoric is easy to read. Ukrainians know that the European market is much bigger than the Russian market. Putin’s rhetoric does not persuade Russians, and it does not persuade Ukraine. The closer to Europe you get, the higher the wages. Compared to this, Putin has nothing to offer. The master strategists in Moscow have lost their leverage. The Kremlin’s representative is no longer believed while the Kremlin’s chief political agent in Ukraine is on trial. Putin makes a presentable offer, but nearly everyone understands the subtext. “We are at the stage of coming out of a crisis,” claims Putin. But the crisis is actually intensifying. The Russian stock market, in the last 55 days, has lost 35 percent.
About JR Nyquist
JR Nyquist Archive
|05/13/2013||Hypocrisy and Capitalism||story|
|05/06/2013||Decadence and Economics||story|
|04/29/2013||Terrorism versus Capitalism||story|
|04/22/2013||The Terrorist Puzzle||story|
|04/15/2013||Spirit of the Age||story|
|04/08/2013||Will the DPRK Strike?||story|
|04/01/2013||Why Trading with Russia and China Is Stupid||story|
|03/25/2013||Russian Capitalism and the Death of Boris Berezovsky||story|
|03/18/2013||Threatening Noises from North Korea||story|
|03/11/2013||Thoughts on the Death of Hugo Chavez||story|