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Friday, August 18, 2017

We put ourselves in a state of siege


American law on the strengthening of sanctions against Russia marked a milestone in relations between the West and Russia. As with the Fulton speech of Winston Churchill and with the American law on the strengthening of sanctions begins the era of the cold war. Churchill, at a table of negotiations with Stalin divided the world and called the leader an “ally”, said Fulton, that between the West and the Soviet Union had dropped an “iron curtain”. Partnerships and alliances in the past. The confrontation of two worlds.


photo: Alex geldings

The law on sanctions symbolically fulfills the role of the “iron curtain” between the West and Russia. “Cold war 2” officially starts. In the past there were “reset”, “partnership for peace” and other attempts to reconcile the interests of the West and Russia. The Western world konsolidiruyutsya and systematically puts pressure on the Russian elite. In these conditions, mobilization scenario the political situation becomes dominant. Conventionally, this scenario can be called “Fortress Russia”.

After the 2011 protests and the Ukrainian “Maidan” “crackdown” in various areas was on the rise. However, these processes have been accompanied by diplomatic moves in the international arena with the aim to preserve good business relations with Western partners. Mainly in Europe.

Today it is obvious that business as usual with the Europeans lead will not work. Europe in military-political terms dependent on the United States and will be forced to sacrifice their economic interests in Russia. Squeezing the Russian business from Europe is also consistent with the interests of Americans.

The main instrument of economic expansion of Russia in Europe was pipeline gas, because prices are set by mutual agreement of buyer and seller on the principle of “take or pay”. This opened opportunities for economic and political pressure on the whole country. The prices for oil are set on the exchange, and affect them only very large financial sharks. From Russia, oil prices are not affected.

However, the “shale revolution” in the U.S. led to the fact that the gas becomes a tradable commodity. The supply of liquefied gas to Europe from the USA it is planned to expand with the American scale. No accident that the law on the strengthening of sanctions against Russia torpedoes the project “Northern stream-2”. This is quite a blow aimed at the “energy superpower”. And there is no doubt that it will be followed by a new one.

The economic consequences of sanctions for Russia there are difficult calculations, since the experts can not predict how widespread sanctions will be applied. American law in this sense, contains some uncertainties. But speculative investors are already beginning to insure risks in and out of Russian securities, which is reflected in the weakening of the ruble, even against the backdrop of a rise in prices for oil.

Revealing the story of the concern “Siemens” does not add optimism and the Western companies that were counting on a long-term presence on the Russian market. The whole chain of consequences for import-dependent Russian economy looks very uncertain. Alarmism in the Russian political and business circles also is quite understandable.

In these circumstances, a mobilization scenario aktiviziruyutsya not only for the confrontation with the West but also to consolidate the Russian elite. It is symbolic that the news of Russian counter-sanctions to reduce staff of the American Embassy in Russia appeared on tapes of agencies in anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s famous order “not a step back”. Even a cursory glance at the development of the political situation shows that not only is this recipe of Joseph Stalin will be adopted for the defense of “Fortress Russia”.

According to media reports, the main themes of the presidential campaign of Vladimir Putin will be social justice, the fight against poverty and corruption. This is no surprise, since Putin has always moved in line with the dominant public queries. The only way to maintain a high trust rating, most. Now most of the demands of justice.

Not a random surge of interest in the figure of Stalin. This revival of the myth of a fair leader who did not steal and others not allowed. Stalin is the image of a leader who can tame a presumptuous elite. Imprisoned under Stalin, regardless of position and rank. Request for equalization of rich and poor before the law is fixed and rigid methods of sociologists. According to the survey, the future President expect the tightening of domestic policy. We are talking about restoring social justice.

The image of “fair to Stalin,” which can be used in the election campaign of the President, will require spectacular “landings” high-ranking officials. This show, which requires a majority. As for the “bread”, for state employees, retirees would need to seek additional funds on the eve of elections, they felt at least some improvement in their financial situation. Nationwide is a large financial cost. Given the fact that the crisis has led to an increase in poverty, growth of unemployment, delays in payment of wages, the loyalty of the majority will cost the state dearly. At the same time the middle class decreases. People who can feed themselves and their families on their own, not expecting “gifts” from the state, becomes smaller. The conditions for doing business tougher: the slump in demand; difficulties in obtaining of credits; administrative barriers; regulations, creating an additional burden on business.

In a crisis, to increase rations, someone’s ration should be reduced. Representatives of the “middle class” are not a significant electoral group. They are dissatisfied with economic policies, the new restrictions, fines, and levies. Worried about personal freedoms. This is not Putin’s electorate, and it makes no sense for him to spend money. On the contrary, the growing pressure on small and medium business in the short term a few to replenish the state budget. However, this will lead to a further reduction of the “middle class”. But the term “middle class” is no longer relevant. It becomes rather “layer”, which proved highly unreliable during the meetings in 2011. And in the current year is also not happy loyalty. The ruling class treats them as Nepmen and the kulaks in the 20-30 years of the last century. They bring to the state Treasury income, comparable to major state and oligarchic commodity business. On the background of strengthening the sanctions on the Russian economy goes into mobilization mode, which will lead to even greater centralization of control, monopolization of all spheres of economic life. We cannot exclude that five years and plans to return. While the President write to various programs of economic growth. But rigid planning in the economy depends not on the imagination of the authors of the programs, and the development of the economic situation. The experience of a planned economy will be a necessary step, so as to keep the market economy under hard external pressure when budget deficit and capital outflow, would be impossible. Financial crisis like the 1998 crisis, the public authorities will not forgive. Therefore, tighter regulation of the economy is almost inevitable. “Nepmen” and other market elements in the mobilization agenda do not fit.

In addition to state-owned corporations and big business we should also mention the financial ambitions of the “siloviki”. In conditions of de facto beginning of “cold war-2” about how to reduce costs law enforcement agencies, cannot be considered. On the contrary, there are weighty arguments for these costs to increase. The other day Franz Klintsevich announced that Russia is ready to lay six aircraft carriers. Such a task was beyond the power even of the USSR. But the application itself shows how big ambitions of the military-industrial complex of the country.

Internal threats to stability are considered to be rallies, demonstrations and any other activity non-systemic opposition. Therefore, in the gendarme functions of the state to save money, too, will fail.

However, on the eve of elections there is another kind of threat that worries the authorities. This threat information. If you do not hold a monopoly over the information field of the country, no hostility will not help save power.

The President signed a law banning anonymizers and VPN. How is this consistent with the thesis of the “digitalization” of the country? In the field of IT-technologies, as well as in the other, the growing control of the state. And this control will only increase, because the spirit of opposition spread, mainly through the Internet. Smartphones have a large part of the population. The popularity of social networks and the content distributed through the Internet, calls into question the absolute power of traditional media. It was good when the country was ruled by TV. But the TV appeared very serious competitor. Now the tightening of state control over IT sector has become one of the main objectives of the mobilization agenda. The Chinese experience in this matter is actively being studied in Russia and is taken into service. “Fortress Russia” won’t stand in confrontation with the West, if not to build my “digital fortress”. “The law of Spring”, the ban anonymizers and other measures — all these successive steps towards creating state-controlled “digital space” in the country. Every citizen should be under the “digital cap” state. Then he will become controlled and manageable.

To relieve social tension by the information methods of the privileged class will have to abandon conspicuous consumption, not to annoy people. About the way it was in Soviet times. A different kind of unauthorised information about a beautiful life officials will be filtered the equivalent of the Great Chinese firewall.

The flywheel mobilization under the slogan “not one step back!” was launched. The only question is whether to allow mobilization strategy to move forward…

Sanctions . Chronicle of events
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