The violence Moscow “exported” to Ukraine and other parts of what the Kremlin claims are parts of “the Russian world” is coming back to haunt Russia at home, with Russians ever more inclined to see violence as a legitimate means to solve their problems, Kirill Martynov says.
In a Novaya gazeta commentary, the Moscow paper’s political observer notes that the war against Ukraine continues but that the Russian propaganda outlets are devoting ever less attention to it, a classic case of cynicism in which one begins a war and then forgets about it when other tasks arise.
But almost unnoticed has been the fact that “something new” has appeared on the screen: violence at home. “For three years, the Russian state has succeeded in explaining to its citizens that killing for the right cause is good and acceptable,” Martynov says. Now, Russians are having to live with that in their own lives.
“We have become accustomed to political force,” the use of violence by officials against those they see as their enemies. But that is now “escaping from under the control of the state.” As a result, “hooligan attacks on activists and even political murders are our new reality,” and one that extends far beyond politics.
A signal indication of that was the recent murder in Moscow’s Gorky Park where blogger Stanislav Dumkin was killed by a group of hooligans because he wasn’t dressed properly in the opinion of the latter and worse a hat and glasses. (Martynov doesn’t point to the Machayevism that this reflects.).
Despite the horror this murder generated in the media, he says, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone because Russians had been well prepared for just such an outrage: “attack ‘a Banderite,’ attack a gay, attack an incorrect theater director, attack a film about the tsar and a ballerina, and finally, attack those dressed not according to expectations.”
Such attacks have “an objective cause” – the decline in incomes “which (together with other signs of social degradation) has continued almost as long as have lasted our geopolitical successes.” When there is no new money, people from top to bottom turn to force to get some of what is left or to compensate for its absence.
The wealthy pray on the less wealthy, and “ordinary citizens, especially young men who have nothing to lose except their chains form gangs and begin to struggle for their place” in what is an ever less bright environment, taught by the regime that force of all kinds is the appropriate way to do that.
“At the end of the 1980s, as Soviet society was dying, the most promising profession already was service in the rackets.” Now, those who have the means of violence, first the siloviki and then the population, are using those means to compensate for the losses they are suffering. But it is obvious that the siloviki “have already lost the initiative” to the latter.
According to Martynov, “the ideology of the new Russia asserts that there exist entire classes of people whom it is correct to destroy. And neither the magistracy nor the police can speak out against such a situation. The consolidation around ‘the Ukrainian question’ has ended and the taboo on the use of force has been lifted.”
In short, “the Ukrainian war has turned into a war of all against all” in Russia.