Putin Says Russia Could Have Killed Navalny Had It Wanted To
Writer Viktor Shenderovich – about Russian protests, the fate of Navalny, Putin’s palace, Lukashenko’s regime and the new US president
Participation of youth in Russian protests
Indeed, the “young unfamiliar tribe” completely unexpectedly, at least for me, turned out to be quite politicized. Putin has become incompatible with life. After all, these are no longer the highbrow intellectual protests of ten years ago, when there were no people without higher education on Bolotnaya and Sakharov, when people went out for free elections, for some fundamental things. There is already an incompatibility: it is simply monstrously obsolete, it interferes with life. And the feeling of this incompatibility of Putin’s policy with life reached the young. This is already a real conflict – tectonic, age. The point here is no longer about some kind of liberals and liberalism. This, by the way, is a significant difference between Putin and Biden, who will seem to be older than him, but at the same time this breakdown of generations is not felt..
About Putin’s palace
The fact that Putin is a thief has already become a commonplace. And it seems to me that the story with the palace in Gelendzhik was, in a sense, the last straw. Here, after all, aesthetics is also important: what we saw is the aesthetics of a thief in law. The palace strikes not with the size of its wealth, but with its style. He is no longer just a usurper: anti-democratic, illegitimate – these are all words from the liberal lexicon. He’s just some kind of Ded Hasan.
I was also struck by the aesthetics of loneliness. This children’s room with toy cars … I thought: how lonely a person should be in principle! This huge striptease hall is also evidence of severe loneliness, it’s all very uncomfortable. This person, apparently, lives very badly. Now, if I were offered to give up my lives with Putin or with Navalny, I would have exchanged with Navalny, because you cannot envy Putin – he has driven himself into such a situation. Another thing is that he drove the whole country into this situation..
There is a lot of symbolism in this film. And this mold that is eating away at the palace, and much more. Historians suggested another association – the palace of Herod the Great. As you know, he built the palace all his life, never finished it and was buried in it. This is the palace of King Herod, which is unfit for life, but fit for death. There is no place for a living person.
This is intended for an environment in which wealth is an indispensable attribute of power. You need a golden brush, otherwise “the boys won’t understand”.
Remember Yanukovych’s golden loaf? It’s not to eat it, it’s to show you how much wealth you have..
On the prospects of protest
I do not think that we are on the eve of some kind of revolutionary change. I’m pretty skeptical about this. It seems to me that in 2011-2012 the changes were much closer and much more likely, because there was a feeling that some part of the government was ready to make compromises, ready to make a gradual return of democratic mechanisms..
And then there was Crimea, Ukraine – and during this time Russia and Putin drove themselves into a monstrous corner. There is no way out of it, I’m afraid that in 2012 the last chance was missed. After everything he has done, he will not be able to “tiptoe out.”.
I think the changes will not come from a political liberal protest, a moral protest – they will come when everything falls apart. Unfortunately, change will come from some kind of economic decay.
I think that Alexei Navalny will spend the coming years in prison. He raised the ante unprecedentedly, at the cost of his fate. And this, apparently, somewhat accelerated the denouement of the Putin regime..
And then it remains to be patient. I do not mean that we must endure – we must fight, but it is clear that tomorrow all this will not happen.
Navalny chose corruption as his unifying motive, not war and murder, because he is a populist, and a very strong populist. He correctly and accurately found the pain point called “social injustice.” This is a pain point for large masses, and not just for liberals, who went for fair elections. Navalny speaks to a much wider audience, to people who were initially much less involved in politics.
Lukashenka’s regime and the cancellation of the Ice Hockey World Championship
I wrote about this problem in some detail during the Sochi Olympics. There is no big sport outside of politics – not in Russia or anywhere else. Physical education can be outside of politics – I can do exercises in the forest outside of politics. And big sport is always a piece of PR. That is why it is immoral to give such support, such support to totalitarian regimes.
I recalled then the Berlin Olympics in 1936 – what this emotional upsurge led to, this unity of the people and the authorities, this whole holiday of sports. It led to the legitimization of Hitler. And two years later there was the Sudetenland, and three more years later – the Second World War. I wrote about this two weeks before the Crimean adventure, and when the annexation happened, it was a direct confirmation. You cannot give such warmth to tyrants. A murderer – he is a murderer, in the case of Lukashenka, without any metaphors. And thank God that they took away the championship: let him and Putin play hockey together in his palace, there is a playground.
About Belarusian protests
Peaceful protest proved to be a noble but bad tactic. They wanted to spit on a peaceful protest. These rascals only understand strength. This is all kindergarten: Lukashenka will not go anywhere, and Putin will not go anywhere.
But the illegitimacy of Lukashenka must become a commonplace, so that it becomes clear that one should not sit at the same table with him..
The most important thing that is felt when you look at it from Russia is that the democratic machine works, that the system of separation of powers and an independent court is working. It is important that even with such an exotic and very extreme president like Trump, the transfer of power still happened. These are encouraging things.
Especially against the background of what is happening in Russia, against the background of our stopping time, when the same person has been in power for twenty years. The picture of the inauguration itself is also different. Remember these shots, when Putin is driving through empty streets, and everything around is cleaned up. This is a completely different world, a completely different air. I joked that the country where the national anthem is performed with jazz “tackles” at the inauguration of the president is a free country by definition. And God forbid that America continues to withstand all trials.
Journalist, TV and radio host, philologist. She started as a correspondent and presenter on NTV under the direction of Evgeny Kiselev, worked on TV6, TVS, REN TV, radio stations Echo Moskvy, City FM, Kommersant FM. From 2013 to 2017, she lived and worked in Kiev, participated in the creation of the information radio station Radio Vesti, directed the Russian-language broadcasting of the Ukrainian channel Hromadske TV, was a host and executive producer. Since 2017 works for Voice of America in Washington DC.