A fortnight ago Nezavisimaya gazeta appeared with a fascinating leader about Putin and the people that shows every sign of last minute, heavy editing. Without venturing into the grim reality that elections have long been fixed in Putin’s favour, with independent journalists liquidated along with political opponents and censorship now an uncontrovertibly unpleasant fact of life, the paper points to the paradox that under Putin the people have suffered a serious drop in living standards over a decade and yet they continue to support the man ultimately responsible.
To this, of course, one might reasonably ask how the editors know. One could point out that opinion polling in Russia has never been conducted to western standards and is therefore notoriously unreliable and has long been so under the monopoly of the late Yuri Levada; that, in the words of British government posters put up during the Second World War, “one never knows who’s listening” (in this instance the FSB rather than Hitler); and that, as democracy has wilted and died since Putin became President in 2000, we have no way of knowing what Russians actually think.
And yet…Alluding to the visceral realism of the Russian people, Nezavisimaya gazeta indirectly cautions against mad cap ambitions to extend the war to Odessa and Kiev, arguing that Putin, ruling a country that is instinctively realist, needs to retain “an umbilical connexion with his majority” by sticking to geopolitical realism.
From the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta
Представления Путина как геополитическая реальность
Президент России, кажется, понимает умонастроение российского народа на пуповинном уровне