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Sunday, March 18, 2018

The main mystery Alexei Navalny: a portrait against the background of the Kremlin

“First, you ignore it. Then laugh at you. Then you attack and want to burn. And then in your honour build monuments” — so-well-known American journalist Nicholas Klein described in 1918, the stages of any successful political career. I’m not sure that by the end of the political career of Alexei Navalny all Russia is studded with monuments in his honor. But the first three described by Nicholas Klein career stage Bulk has definitely successfully overcome.

Photo: Evgeny Feldman.

A year ago in Russia there was only one politician surrounded in the public mind a kind of sacred aura, is the undisputed leader of the country in the twenty-first century, Vladimir Putin. Today, the GDP is still on the three heads above all other Russian servants of the people. But in the “Pantheon” of politicians with the “halo” Putin is not the one there settled and Alexei Navalny.

What is behind the dizzying rise Bulk? Which spring is the mass of consciousness made possible the rise of a politician, who, as everyone knows, in addition to a set of General slogans, there is no substantive agenda? Where is the “career ceiling” is Alexey Navalny? And that “the Navalny phenomenon” really means for Russia?

Riding a wave

In 1890 the famous British economist Alfred Marshall summed up the works of many other scientists and finally formulated the theory of supply and demand. The basic tenets of Marshall’s demand creates supply; the one whose proposal most closely meets the needs of the market has better chances to defeat your competitors is usually attributed primarily to the economic sphere. But the laws of Marshall is working in the realm of politics. Based on them, it’s amazing easy to determine why the “shares” one of the servants of the people on the political stock exchange suddenly flooded upwards, and “shares” another suddenly collapsed down.

Why in the twilight of Gorbachev’s era, the disgraced Boris Yeltsin effortlessly overcame the fierce resistance of the Soviet party bureaucracy and was in the position of leader of the country? Because his message is “can’t live, requires full upgrade!” perfectly coincided with the main demand of the society. Why in 1999 the Russian public in a matter of weeks changed his opinion about the new Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin? Why “gray and faceless apparatchik” GDP in the eyes of voters turned into a gigantic figure of historic proportions? Because “political proposal for the country” “Russia should rise from his knees and to finally bring order in your own home” has hit the hidden bull’s-eye of public expectations.

To compare “the effect of Yeltsin” and “Putin effect” with the “Navalny effect” is, of course, is not correct. But to downplay the political dimensions of achieving the Bulk of the spring and summer of 2017, I too would in any case did not. Opponents often accused Alexei of opportunism and the desire to customize their slogans and public beliefs under public expectations at this particular moment. Navalny is a fierce Russian nationalist, the liberal idea of knight in shining armor. However, opportunism is not always a sin in politics.

Going through the political mask, the most popular with the public, Alexei Navalny unexpectedly stumbled upon a gold mine. Slogans and calls Bulk resonated with audience expectations. In the eyes of certain parts of society Alexey has become an attractive alternative to Vladimir Putin, the only possible leader of the Russian opposition.

What allowed Alexei Navalny to achieve such impressive achievements? Received from sociologists the answer, I could not believe it: after the acute phase of the economic crisis in Russia.

Here is how the General Director of VTSIOM Valery Fedorov has explained to me the essence of this phenomenon: “Associated with the state of the economy negative dynamics of public expectations began in the fall of 2014 and was completed in autumn 2016. Last fall people felt that the most acute and painful phase of the economic crisis is behind us. This formed a powerful canopy of positive expectations. The state of the Russian economy is not causing people fear. The main issue in their eyes was the following: “When you become better than me personally?”.

However, to give any satisfactory response to these public expectations, the Russian economy failed. Yes, the Russian ruble today is not in a state of steep decline, as it was at the end of 2014. But our economy is now infinitely far from the growth rates that were the norm in the first years of Putin. The country’s economy can’t provide those “Golden eggs”, which is so eager population. Coupled with the end of the “fat reserves” accumulated in the old “fat” years, the gap between high public expectations and disappointing reality of the public caused a severe attack of irritation.

Alexei Navalny quickly realized all of this and skillfully managed to ride the wave. All ingenious is known simply. Some political ideas and methods Bulk is so simple, that they are even uncomfortable to talk. Clever Alexey has understood: in the years when the welfare of ordinary people is growing by leaps and bounds, they tend to treat indulgently the overconsumption from the elite. But when your wallet starts to empty, the principle of “live and let live” is no longer valid. Highlighted the luxurious lifestyle of the powerful of this world begins to be perceived as something totally unacceptable, as almost a personal insult.

Another brilliant in its simplicity idea Bulk — the idea is to focus on the initial stage of his political fire on Dmitry Medvedev. One of the features of our Prime Minister at the moment is the tendency of some to exaggerate their own importance, the size of his popularity and his political talents. Medvedev is not simply not able to repel the attack of the Bulk. The Prime Minister played the role of “amplifier”, a giant subwoofer directed against him a noisy propaganda campaign. Navalny managed to use the President of the government as their advertising agent.

No successful political career cannot flourish without human banal of luck. And Alexei Navalny are very lucky. The beginning of the formation of people shed a positive economic expectations, to ensure that power was not, coincided with a shift change for key positions in the Russian state hierarchy — replacement of the Kremlin’s curator of internal policy.

Sergey Kirienko — the person who was replaced by Volodin in the Kremlin after a successful for the Russian government, the Duma elections in autumn 2016, is also exceptionally talented statesman. Kiriyenko is the confidence and even the admiration of his closest colleagues in the Putin machine. Kiriyenko workaholic, a kind of thinking machine, which passes through the mountains of information and trying to understand all and everything, including, for example, a more modern format of the celebration of March 8, or a reflection of the attempts of the foreign Internet giants with the help of unfair methods to subjugate the Russian market.

Kiriyenko is an extremely tough Manager and apparatchik. Some of its meetings in the headquarters of the presidential administration on an Old square lasted exactly 7 or exactly 12 minutes. However, unlike Volodin, Kirienko is primarily a technocrat and Manager, and only secondarily a politician. “Building line” of the elite is that Kirienko knows and can do. But public policy, managing masses of people, attempting to dominate the structure, not built on the hierarchical principle is something from which for a large part of its public activities of Sergei Kiriyenko was infinitely distant.

Colleagues of Sergey Kiriyenko assure me, however, that he learns to cope with entirely new field of activity with astonishing rapidity. Knowing more Kiriyenko in 1998, I’m willing to believe it. But “amazing speed” is still not synonymous with “simultaneously”. Kirienko has to learn in the workplace. And this temporarily reduced the effectiveness of the Kremlin’s political machine — with clear consequences for the opponents of the Russian government like Alexei Navalny.

The political rise of Navalny there is another reason, which is not yet amenable to analysis. For the vast majority of citizens of the Russian Federation head-on collision with the repressive apparatus of the Russian state is a terrible personal tragedy. Yesterday you were the richest man in Russia. Today you with impunity, terrorizing outcasts from among the inmates. Yesterday you were imposing a Governor of a large region, threatening the voters to “dig the road” in retaliation for the cool reception. Today you sit in jail and write sad poems: “the Sabbath slapped across the face, didn’t help me Holy talisman. I was kicked to the curb, right in Aprelevka dirty snow”.

But in relation to Alexei Navalny, the Russian power machine behaves like a paper tiger. Harsh sentences are passed and then repealed. In relation to Bulk all like make-believe, all though not seriously. The maximum that gets its share, even after blatant attacks against the government, it is 30 days in jail. The reasons for such a situation to argue. In the version that Navalny is a “Trojan horse”, specially mishandled by the Russian authorities in the ranks of the opposition, I don’t believe strongly.

But in the fact that the Bulk were and are informal relations with different factions within the Russian power structures and in General within the Russian political elite, I believe is ready. But this relationship is not exactly built on the principle of “superior — subordinate”. The Foundation of the relationship is based, I think, on a temporary partial convergence of interests and attempts at reciprocal use.

But the reason of “security” Navalny, according to my information, not even that. For a long time wishing to send Alexei A. in places not so remote in the structures of power to spare. Vladimir Putin, however, according to informed sources, refers to this idea negatively. It turns out: while security forces can only helplessly chatter, and around the Bulk it creates an aura of invulnerability.

Trump Russian bottling

“The only good government is a bad government in a state of extreme fear”, said once a famous British writer Joyce Cary, the man who so loved power that he refused the order of the British Empire on the grounds that the state has no right to judge the merits or demerits of literary works. I am a man, much less ideologically charged than Joyce Cary. And so his definition of “good government” gives me a certain skepticism.

Was in 1940 in a state of “extreme fear” Winston Churchill, when he rejected the offer of colleagues to conclude “peace with honor” with Hitler and decided to pursue then seemed a hopeless struggle against Nazism? Was in 1959, in a state of “extreme fear” of the new French President Charles de Gaulle when he made the decision about the refusal of Paris from its colony of Algeria, and thereby exposed himself to the bullets and bombs of extremists from created by disgruntled military factions, OAS (Secret armed organisation)?

No, “fear” is not the only cause of “good” government. But in a sense, Joyce Cary’s still right. If the government does not feel pressure from the population, if there is no real political competition, that is a recipe for stagnation, the prescription of becoming a “good” government is “bad”. Within three years after the re – “conquest of the Crimea” Russian authorities had almost exclusive influence on Russian political life. And this has led to the emergence of certain officials triumphalist shapkozakidatelskie moods, confident that “people will swallow everything.”

Society has an appetite for the alternative. Society tired of a series of pale, unconvincing and weak-willed “non-system” opposition leaders like one intending to give the woman you love your political party of ex-Prime Minister of Russia. The society is tired of “systemic opposition leaders” Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky — the people who, since 1993, promised from day to day to defeat the regime in the elections. Society wanted something new, fresh, not Satriano, convincing and strong. Alexey Navalny, a brilliant Communicator, a politician with absolute charisma — a response to the prayer of many. The appearance of the country’s half-forgotten signs of the political competition is a definite plus.

And now begins a long list of potential cons. The rise of the political career of Alexei Navalny may seem a purely domestic political phenomenon. But the wave of “navalnyi” it is fashionable to consider as part of the wave of populism that has captured, for example, US. Donald trump — what it is not “American Bulk”? The political elite hates him and is afraid. But it is impossible to find a common language with the common man. About the details and the slippery moments of the art of government trump knows nothing and does not want to know. But while voters do not care. They are still quite loud slogans and promises simple solutions to complex problems.

So, we follow in line with the global, or at least American political trends? Yes and no. I was very wary of a few things. Base of political support for populist trump is “the forgotten people of American policy,” not very educated segments of the population who are tired of abstruse exercise of the intellectual elite of their country. Base of political support for populist Navalny — the most educated strata of society, people who seemingly don’t have to believe in the possibility of political magic.

Bulk offers nothing but protest as such, protest for the sake of protest. But for the country is good only that the protest, which carries a meaningful agenda, a protest aimed not only to destruction but to creation. In protest, Navalny plenty of destruction. He is doing everything to move the protest activity of citizens in the plane street clashes between demonstrators and security forces. But with ingenuity in protest Navalny big problem — unless, of course, except for the creative beginning of the creation of a further political career, the Bulk. Protest Navalny is a purely autocratic movement built on the principle “whoever is not with us is against us”.

But pay attention to the fact that the Navalny supporters from among the most educated strata of Russian society? No, I don’t. Well-known Russian writer and historian Pyotr Romanov, recently wrote in social networks: “I Never noticed how hard it is to debate with people who confuse “is” and “should be” (or “it shouldn’t be”)? You tell them about reality, they are about the dream. And the fact that the possibility of this dream from the earth’s harsh reality (and particularly of human nature) does not imply that they are not interested. Still SHOULD BE. That’s all.”

Sergei Gurkin, author of the famous first recent scandalous interview with the Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksievich, formulated the same problem more acutely and vividly: “the Border has long been is not along the lines of “liberals are not liberals”. The border passes through the host or not accepting reality. Seeing it (and after that build a certain picture of the world) — or taking a picture of the world and ejected from the reality that there is not suitable”.

Another point that really bothers me. Populist Donald trump operates within the state system, in which the role of the mechanism of the manual of governance is minimized. Trump is the President of the United States. But it is locked from all sides. Populist Alexei Navalny operates within the state system, in which in the foreseeable future there is no real alternative to the manual mechanism of governance. And what if Navalny with his openly authoritarian manners might one day break through the “wheel”? Will not make the country a powerful leap backward in its political development?

Yes, Yes, you are absolutely right. I shamelessly forward — into a future that likely will never come. Bulk seems greatest opposition only in the absence of other any major figures in the opposition. Any attempt to measure its absolute and not relative political weight will give a fairly modest performance.

For example, a detailed sociological disassembly of the currently popular thesis that “Navalny has become the idol of youth” in the performance the General Director of VTSIOM Valery Fedorov: “you can’t say that the Kremlin has lost the younger generation. At the demonstration Bulk mass were representatives of only one part of the youth — shkoloty. We are talking about pupils of graduation classes of schools and students the first two courses — the people who can afford not to think about their future careers and enjoy the freedom. But even among Kolotov environment, which, incidentally, is still pretty apolitical, Putin is much more popular than Navalny. Rallies, Navalny walked out of a white crow, loners, people who in their midst are on the side. The bulk of these white Raven — the man who gave them the opportunity to find himself, realize himself and to socialize”.

Not too large and the number of staunch supporters of Navalny among the adult population. The assessment of my knowledgeable companion of power structures, – the followers of Navalny in Moscow is “seven or eight thousand fanatical activists.” But even if there were 80 thousand — what difference would it make? While Putin is in power, Navalny has no chance even to get close to the Kremlin. The power rating can vary arbitrarily much, but GDP will still hold the reins of power. But what will happen when Putin will stop being the first person of Russia?

The history of our country after 2024 — this is still one big question mark. It is clear that Putin sooner or later will give successor. But will this successor to withstand the weight of the “cap of Monomakh”? Isn’t he the same “strong leader” like Dmitry Medvedev? When Putin leaves the political Olympus, the destabilization is a very real prospect. And the disruption to power can break arbitrarily random and non-systemic figure, the same Bulk or yet unknown to us the political twin brother of Navalny. The probability of something like that is not very large. But it’s there.

What is medicine in small doses, becomes a poison in large. Bulk in reasonable doses is a remedy for the Russian policy, a way to make the country better. Exaggerated strong Bulk carries a risk for the evolutionary path of Russia’s development. Navalny is both living proof that our society is growing, and the living embodiment of the path on which it is better not to turn. Navalny is a test, a test of maturity, ability to maintain composure and make sound rational decisions. Countdown until this exam has already begun.

See photo essay on the topic:

As police pressed the protesters for Tver: gas, batons and “Shame!”

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The Bulk Business. Chronicle of events

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