Monday 4 April 2022

Russians rally round the flag

This article, by a Russian journalist who used to work for the BBC, is exceptionally interesting. It is the result of her talking to Russians at the top of what is called in Romania the 'structure of power', some of them powerful enough to get one to one meetings with Vladimir Putin.

At first, they were bewildered by or opposed to the war, but sanctions have made them rally to the flag. 

In short, it can be said that, over the past month, Putin’s dream of a consolidation among the Russian elite has come true. These people understand that their lives are now tied only to Russia, and that that’s where they’ll need to build them. ..The possible conclusion of a peace treaty is unlikely to change the mood of the Russian elites. "We’ve passed the point of no return,” says a source close to the Kremlin. “Everyone understands that there will be peace, but that this peace won't return the life we had before.”

...“All these personal sanctions cement the elites. Everyone who was thinking about a new life understands that, for the next 10-15 years at least, their lives are concentrated in Russia, their children will study in Russia, their families will live in Russia. These people feel offended. They will not overthrow anyone, but will build their lives here," says a high-ranking source in one of the sanctioned state companies.

Middle-aged people of about 45-50 years old, who caught the end of the Soviet era in their youth, are also continuing their affairs — without any special enthusiasm, but with understanding and acceptance of the situation. “Now it’s much more important to come to understand how we will live in these conditions,” says a source in this age category, who holds a high position in the power hierarchy and is considered a technocrat. “Yes, we’ll have to eat roots and give birth in the fields,” sadly ironizes another source in this age category. “But what are the other options?
...Another young civil servant who does not support the war says that he feels trapped: It’s unbearable to stay, but it’s impossible to quit and leave, because no one will let him out of the country.
...“No one can demand anything. They can have a chat [with Putin], but it's no use. He has a clear picture in his head that he is rubbing in everyone’s head. “We wanted to be friends, they declared us their enemies, they surrounded us from all sides, they were ready to accept Ukraine into NATO and deploy missiles. They provoked us and there was no other way out,” explains a person familiar with the details of the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine
That last paragraph, incidentally, explains why Putin acted as he did, in case you did not know. It makes it clear where America went wrong in all this. 

Don't misunderstand me. What Putin is doing is murderous. It is not to support Putin to say that he acted for reasons. 

'Hitler was a rational, though no doubt a wicked statesman', said AJP Taylor and the same goes for Putin. 

Hitler had perfectly understandable reasons for invading and conquering half of Poland (Marxist Russia did the same to the other half, for equally understandable reasons), though it was very wrong and also a stupid mistake, just like Putin's invasion of the Ukraine.

Putin is behaving like Peter the Great or Catherine the Great behaved. However, the Soviet Union made Russia a more barbaric country than it was under the Tsars. 

Stalin had very understandable reasons for invading Poland in 1939 and was as guilty as Hitler, but Russia won the war and the USSR hung onto its gains, which are western Belarus and western Ukraine.

Communist Russia was a terrorist state from the October Revolution onwards and the Russian military still use terrorist tactics. 

Jack Watling of Chatham House, writing today in the Telegraph, says the horrible atrocities against innocent civilians, discovered after the Russians evacuated the village of Bucha, are how the Russian army operates. Russians know this (for example, the young Russian woman in Tallinn whom I quoted recently, who is pleased that Ukrainian civilians are being killed). 

In January 1919, Beilby Alston sent a telegram to the Foreign Office in London to describe what he was observing in the Russian Civil War. He wrote how “the number of innocent civilians brutally murdered by Bolsheviks at Argo and other Ural towns runs into hundreds; some of these people have been found with eyes pierced out, others without noses… girls have been raped, and amongst others, Bishop Andronick was buried alive at Perm whilst 25 priests were shot there". [I corrected 2 typos.]

This pattern of atrocities has repeated itself in conflict after conflict involving the Russian military. From the Civil War to the Second World War, and from Afghanistan to Chechnya, where Russian soldiers went house to house in Aldi shooting civilians, there have been many Buchas. Stories of rape and mutilations are now emerging across Ukraine.

....For the international community there is a danger that Bucha is seen as an isolated atrocity deserving of a unique response. It certainly deserves investigation and, if possible, criminal accountability. But treating Bucha as unique risks much effort being put into fundamentally performative responses. Bucha is not special. It is indicative of how Russia intended to occupy and repress Ukraine.
Meanwhile ordinary Russians are being denounced to the police for criticising the government, as in Stalin's time, according to the Telegraph two days ago.
Pupils at a school in Penza, central Russia, secretly taped their teacher making anti-war comments and denounced her to the police.

In the recording, published online by the exiled Baza news service, a 15-year-girl complained that she has been banned from travelling to Europe for a competition. Her teacher interrupted her and said that this could only be expected when Russia was bombing western Ukraine.

"We don't know all the details," the girl is heard protesting. The teacher replied: "I've read 100, 200 different independent sources and you haven't read one. We live in a totalitarian regime… We are North Korea. We are an outcast country."

It's very sad indeed. Russians is becoming a totalitarian regime, which she was not between 1989 and now. 

We are not told what happened to the teacher.  I wish her luck. (Of course, a schoolmaster in England who showed pupils the prophet Mahomet on his tea mug got suspended from his job last week and people sometimes go to prison in England for expressing political opinions.)

1 comment:

  1. Who would have thought that citizens of ‘free speech’ Western countries would need a VPN to read a Russian news site?