Annals of the Russian Mental Case
It’s ironic, to say the least, that Russia’s neo-Soviet overlords so often attempt to put their political rivals into psychiatric hospitals (we have a whole category in our sidebar devoted to documenting these efforts). Ironic, since it’s the overlords themselves who are so much more in need of such treatment. Our lead editorial today about the literally crazed remarks of Putin’s puppet in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is all the evidence any reasonable person needs on this point. But there’s lots more.
Take for instance the revelation last week that Russian “president” Dima Medvedev had appointed his chief of staff Sergey Naryshkin to chair a special committee devoted to improving Russia’s image in the West. In any normal, civilized, intelligent country such an effort would begin by carefully reviewing national policies to see what mistakes had been made, what errors might have provoked foriegn animus, what reforms should be made. But not in Putin’s Russia. “There’s so much speculation and insinuation,” said Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer who has set up a think tank to criticize U.S. and European democracy, summing up the Kremlin’s attitude.
In other words, Russia is doing nothing wrong except perhaps not marketing itself well enough, it’s the foreigners themselves with their ignorance and stupidty who are the problem.
Even many Russophiles themselves see how utterly insane this is. “Nothing will come of this,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a Moscow-based magazine, Russia in Global Affairs. “Image is not something that can be altered by a bureaucratic machine.” It’s exactly the same type of attitude the USSR took towards the outside world, and it was the USSR itself that collapsed as a result.
Medvedev has not done anything of substance since he was “elected” to alter the repressive neo-Soviet political climate. Instead of responding to the report from the European Union which we highlighted in out last issue, a report which condemns Russia’s entire judicial system as corrupt and barbaric, with a set of reform proposals, Medvedev simply ignored the report. Instead of routinely holding press conferences where he can be confronted by opposition journalists, Medvedev ignores the press. Instead of firing Vladimir Putin, whose mismanagement of the economy gets worse by the minute, Medvedev allows rumors to persist that Putin could return to power at any moment as “president for life.”
Russia realizes it has a horrific image problem, yet it won’t take any action to change its behavior. Instead, it simply continues it by blaming the outside world and trying to use cheap marketing gimmicks to lie its way into a better image. That didn’t work for the USSR and it won’t work for Russia.
We’re wise to your lies, Mr. Medvedev.