Russia, Behind the Curtain
Over the past year, the confidence of the Russian people in their government has plummeted. From a high of 56% in May 2010, the approval rate has fallen steadily until last month it dropped, stunningly, below a majority to 48%.
In July 2010, only 29% of Russians thought their government was moving in the “wrong direction.” As of last month, that figure stands at 40% — a whopping increase of one-third in less than a year. Back in July a majority of Russians thought the country was moving in the right direction; now, just 43% think so. Only 27% of Russians firmly believe the government will be able to change things for the better, while 37% are sure there is no chance that will happen.
Meanwhile, another poll revealed that 40% of Russians favor the installation of a constitutional monarch.
These are devastatingly bad poll results in a country where the state controls all major media outlets and public criticism of the regime is almost wholly absent. If the public had better information, the regime would no doubt be in single-digit approval.
In shockingly bizarre fashion, however, Russian approval of the country’s two leaders, Medvedev and Putin, is still stratospherically high. Medvedev has 68% approval and Putin, who is in charge of the government, is even higher at 71%. There is only one word for such results, and that word is: irrational. Or perhaps a better word would be: psychotic.
If Medvedev and/or Putin, who have total control over all aspects of political action in Russia, are not to blame for the country heading hopelessly in the wrong direction, who is?? Isn’t it absolutely obvious that if Putin were currently president and Medvedev prime minister, then Medvedev would be fired?
Some Russians are turning their lack of confidence in their government into political action. Boris Nemtsov has received over $65,000 in small individual donations to publish and distribute his latest white paper on personal corruption by Medvedev and Putin, and Alexei Navalny has collected nearly four times more to support his own ongoing battle against high-level corruption. The Kremlin is taking notice, and has used the KGB to ferret out and harass Navalny’s donors. When that resulted in an increase in donations, the Kremlin escalated its repression and announced a criminal investigation that could put Navalny in prison for five years.
Which is predictable. After all, why take the trouble of improving your policies and raising public approval levels when you can simply threaten, intimidate and perhaps even murder those who dare to disapprove? It’s the tactic used by the USSR, and Russians know it well. The fact that this tactic led the nation to despair and collapse does not seem to phase them one little bit.