An article drafted by military commentator Il’ya Kramnik for Izvestiya was abruptly withdrawn from publication. Clearly the government did not like what was written. It had criticised Sergei Shoigu, the notoriously immodest Minister of Defence, for lying about who is responsible for the reform of the armed forces and the overall improvement in conditions. Shoigu, true to himself, claimed these reforms as his own in spite of the fact that his predecessor was the one responsible. The discarded article was published on the website of Ekho Moskvy and the Facebook page of the author.
For some considerable time everyone has had to put up with idle boasting from Shoigu. Presumably Vladimir Putin thought it harmless. But now, it seems, some influential people have finally had enough. Nezavisimaya gazeta, frequently critical of incompetence in the armed forces but cautiously so, has firmly sided with Kramnik. Its own article, which appears today, is entitled: “Who would not like the article by Il’ya Kramnik about Sergei Shoigu?”
Кому могла не понравится статья Ильи Крамника о Сергее Шойгу?
To say the least all this is most unusual. Nothing so radical has appeared in its pages before. One is tempted to think that the malaise that has held the economy in a vise-like grip for the past two years has spread right through the upper echelons of the state. The fights with demonstrators on the streets of Moscow were further signs that the current régime has run out of steam.
Somewhere ahead lies the culminating point of weakness, where the body politic will begin to stagger and fall. The vultures in the media are beginning to circle. The thought may have occurred in the Kremlin that it is time to toss them a political corpse just to delay the evil day. But it will also most certainly have occurred to them that this gesture might just increase the appetite of their enemies and bring that day closer.