While some Western regime changers hoped that the return of Navalny could incite broad protest movements in Russia, the German newmagazine “Deutsche Welle” published an analysis of the chances for a broad protest movement in Russia and thereby for a regime change option. Therefore we want to repost it in English and think it comes close to the analysis of part-time Putin adviser Dr. Rahr. Even if Putin is losing popularity and his party United Russia has a historic low in ratings and some Western experts think that Putin will invade Eastern Ukraine and annex it as Nuovo Ruzssia to compensate his inner-Russian support of the Russian population by a wave of nationalism and chauvinism, it becomes clear that Putin doesn´t seem to face a real regime change threat by Navalny and beyond:
Not a broad protest movement in Russia
Russians repeatedly take to the streets to demonstrate – for Navalny, but also against social grievances and corruption. There are enough reasons – but they are too complex for a broad protest movement. After the winter rallies in several Russian cities, where hundreds of people were arrested, the team of the imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny announced further street protests. As soon as more than half a million participants have registered on a website, the organizers want to announce the exact date of their action. Experts with whom DW spoke to believe that Navalny’s hunger strike, which he has been on since the end of March, could only act as a catalyst for further protests for a small number of Russians. According to a recent survey by the opinion research institute Levada-Zentrum, Navalny reaches a maximum of 20 percent of Russians. For them, the hunger strike is a serious reason to take to the streets, according to the Russian sociologist Alexej Titkow. The vast majority of Russians, however, are rather indifferent to Navalny’s fate.
The mood of protest is waning – despite Navalny’s hunger strike The Navalny team is working on organizing the „largest rally in Russian history“ since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the framework conditions for this are poor. According to the Levada Center, the Russians‘ willingness to protest has steadily decreased since the beginning of 2021. In the spring of 2020, around 30 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to take part in rallies in the next two to three months. Now it’s only around 20 percent. „This is primarily due to the end of the second wave of the pandemic. This paves the way out of quarantine and leads to a return to a more or less normal life,“ analyzes sociologist Denis Volkov from the Levada Center. According to his observations, the main supporters of Navalny are young people between the ages of 25 and 35, and they are a little discouraged at the moment, also because the authorities reacted with great severity to the protests over the winter. According to the Lewada Center, only around one percent of those questioned actually protested. „There are two different things: to say that you want to go out on the street and then really do it in the face of batons,“ said sociologist Alexej Titkow.
Demonstrations in more regions
Overall, the willingness to protest in Russia is declining. Instead, it is spreading more and more across the entire country. Since 2017, experts have been observing demonstrations in more and more Russian regions – including in cities that were previously considered to be rather quiet. The geographical spread of the protests also reflects the structures of Alexej Navalny’s Foundation. Wherever his organizers were there, people took to the streets. According to the sociologist Denis Volkov, this was not only due to the events around Navalny. Russians also protested against other abuses, as shown by the criticism of the 2018 pension reform. Uprising in Bashkortostan: Battle for Mount Kushtau Often there were also local reasons to take to the streets, such as the protests against the construction of a controversial toxic waste dump in the Arkhangelsk region, the demonstrations in Khabarovsk against the arrest of the governor Sergei Furgal or protests against the planned mining of limestone on Mount Kushtau, a natural monument in the republic of Bashkortostan. But these protests remain local, according to Titkow, „they do not follow a common agenda.“ Different protest camps Sociologists also do not assume that the different groups will one day unite. They have different incomes, find themselves in different life situations and also differ greatly in their political attitudes. Most of those who protested in January come from the Russian middle class. You sympathize with Navalny, but not all of them are his followers.
„But there are also other people who could vent their anger,“ says Volkov. Most of them are economically weaker. „They are more likely to be supporters of the Communist Party, including many elderly people, and they do not use social networks and believe in state television. Navalny is still unable to reach this audience, despite having tried a debate on justice and welfare. For these people, he remains a ‚cheater who embezzled wood and even poisoned himself,‘ „said Volkov. Dissatisfaction as the main motive Even if the protest camps are different, they are united by their dissatisfaction with life, emphasize sociologists. „People are tired of their situation. They are driven by fear of the future and the feeling that everything is moving in the wrong direction,“ says Volkov. Andrej Kolesnikow from the Carnegie Center says the demonstrators are no longer carried by illusions and euphoria, as was the case during the 2011/2012 protests. „It is clear to the people that there is repression and that the state power is neither ready for a dialogue nor for compromises,“ said the expert. The youth is not a driving force Much has been written about the politicization of Russian youth in connection with the protests in January, especially on the social network TikTok. But sociologists did not observe an increase in the participation of young people in the protests either in 2017 or this year. „Significantly more people between the ages of 20 and 40 take to the streets,“ emphasizes Alexej Titkow. In Russia, a TikTok video was circulating at times, in which a student walked along to protest rallies for Alexej Navalny and also called on other people to take to the streets. But this video was invented by the authorities to discredit the protests, said Volkov. „A large part of society, especially the older generation, believed that it was purely a student protest. These people even berated Navalny for dragging children into the matter. Russian propaganda worked in this regard,“ said Volkov”
A former German diplomat commented on this in a broader sense:
““It seems to me that the article describes the situation correctly. The willingness to demonstrate is also dwindling in Belarus. In both cases it was a question of movements that formed around attractive leaders and groups in the relatively short term, appealing slogans and memorable symbols followed. But in the long run the social coherence for an overthrow or „regime change“ was lacking a base and a convincing political program. Therefore, most of the color revolutions and also the Arab Spring of 2011 ended (who still wants to rememberof it?) ) with failure. This is a disappointment for many, but it should also be an incentive to discuss the subject of „system change“ beyond the concepts of Gene Sharp thinking. Why was the „regime change“ successful in Iran in 1979 – until today? And the question should be asked: Why were Lenin and Co. successful? From 1917 to the end of the SU? And why is Mao still hanging at the entrance gate to the Imperial Palace in Beijing? Do you have any answers?”
My short reply which is not a definte and ultimative answer, but a hypothesis:
Quite simply, because of neoliberalism and the hybrid and hubris ideology of a Fukuyama, which replaced the historic materialism of communism and the revolutionary role of the working class by an ideology of neoliberal liberalism of the global middle class to find The End of History, Thatcher declared „There is no such thing as society“, and paid homage to a youth cult and ideological and technological futurism of the social media-savvy Twitter revolutionaries, as if a smartphone, some likes and youth could do something against a centralist totalitarian ideology and disciplined organization or party on their own. The new Youth Organizationns organized in NGOs, not that much in organizations, parties or an better disciplined organitions., but more hedonistic and loose networks. :Parallel the new young studendts came form multiculltural postmodern and postcolonial genderstudies, wanted the already fragmented society fragment much more in many other identities.not the man-woman antagonism any more, but by sexual orietations as LGBTIQ: with this minority and critisism of nonbinar heteronormativity you ignored the other mainstream and focus most of your political thinkling in the rights for minorities and not for geopolitics or other subjects if then it becomes a feminist foreign policy as in Sweden. And while the authotarian states educated their students and chidren in MINT subjects, technology, enginieering, geopolitics. history of the CCP, socialist economy with Chinse charactrisitic and proud of the rise of a nation as a victim of 100 years for Western imerialist humilation China wants to compensate this in the future as the e´next indispensable and next humilating great imperialistic power.
With this neoliberal economic and ideological fragmentation of state, mind and society. it is no accident that all the regime changes after the peaceful 1989 regime changes in Eastern Europe and the Sovjet Union failed so much. In case of the CCP they knew that you have to make economic reforms, but crack down any political reform. Former Sovjet General Secretary Andropov had similiar ideas as Deng Xiaoping and then we would have got a capitalist, successful, but political still authotarian Sovjet Union next to China, But the successful regime changes in the European East were due to the naive and unexperienced Gorbatchev who wanted to make political and a foreign policy revolution instead of only economic reforms.But Jelzin and US adviser Sachs didn´t push a combination of political democratic and social just economic refrom, but gave Russia a totally neoliberal 100 days crash privatization economic program which brought the Russian population poverty, a decline in life expendecy of 10 years and more – neoliberalism paved Putin his way to power.
However, if Singapur was not a small city state, but a superpower as the USA or China it could be a role model for a multicultural, green and ecological and semiliberal or semi authotarian prosperity state for the world . which prevents Chinese neotoatlitarism or neofascist Trumpism. Maybe the West and the East could learn more from Lee Kuangyew and Singapur as a Green City and its regulated market economy which attracts many start ups and young people before they are froced to try a revolution in their own desperate countries.. But the present ideological and geopolitical conflict is between the USA and China.