Today we offer a wealth of material showing how Russia is coming apart at the seams. To start off, two recent reports from the Russian press, relayed to us by the indispensable Paul Goble, indicate the Russia is cracking and crumbling at its very foundations.
First, Goble reports how the Kremlin’s totally failed policy in the Caucasus is threatening wider social instability; then, as if to emphasize the first point, he reports on how Russians across the country are stocking up on guns.
Goble’s Russian sources say that there is now one gun for every sixty people in Moscow and 1.2 million in private hands throughout the country. That’s more guns than the Russian army itself can field on its best day, if they were melded into a single anti-government fighting force designed to oust Putin from power. There is even some opposition in parliament to government moves to regulate weapons more heavily, indicative of the presence of a nascent political movement similar to the NRA in the United States. Putin’s failure to manage the economy has resulted in massive pressure on the social network, and as it frays and unravels Russian crime levels, already appallingly high, combined with police corruption and unreliablity are pressuring citizens to take matters into their own hands. This independent basis for gun ownership, separate from any desire to challenge the regime, makes it very difficult for the Putin regime to crack down on guns in order to protect itself from insurrection. Indeed, doing so might only make the liklihood of a public backlash that much greater.
And Putin’s crazy policy in Ossetia, encouraging separatism, has set a horrifying precedent by which these guns might be turned against the Kremlin. Goble’s Russian sources — in this instance, an actual Ossetian writer — warn that whole sections of Russia burdened by failed economic policies may seek to break away from Russia proper, and they may not take “nyet” for an answer. The writer points out that “Russian officials and media types portray people of the Caucasus” as one group and in an invariably negative way. As a result, when Russian soldiers come to the North Caucasus, they come with a negative attitude toward the local population and see in everyone they meet a militant.” In other words, Russians are none to circumspect about their virulent racism, and the peoples of the Caucasus are only too painfully well aware of it.
On top of that: “Average incomes in the North Caucasus are half the Russia-wide average, and a third of all the unemployed [in the country as a whole] are concentrated in this region alone. Such conditions open the door for those who hope to recruit people to extremist causes.” Putin, himself a shameless racist, simply couldn’t care less how much the people of these outlying regions are suffering, and in his isolated neo-Soviet arrogance has no idea of the powder keg he has created.
Inevitably, this fissures make Russian vulnerable to influence from foreign states, particularly those who wish to support the development of Islam in Russia. As well, corrupt local leaders and organized criminals are enabled and emboldened.