The new breed of authoritarian rule. Out with the outdated trend of simple censorship and ousting the rebels. The new style is to get entwined with the opposition, to climb inside each movement and ideology and feed it just enough so that it stays visible but not enough that it can rise up.
“The new style is to get entwined with the opposition, to climb inside each movement and ideology and feed it just enough so that it stays visible but not enough that it can rise up.”
Vladislav Surkov and President Vladimir Putin
The aforementioned Journalist, Peter Pomerantsev, ended up at recently new media channel (interestingly) named SNOB. Its goal is to foster a new type of “global Russian”, one that advocates liberal, notably western, values. As may be expected, he questions whether his role there really does further the liberal causes, or if it’s all playing into those all-encompassing hands of the Kremlin. Its owner and financier is Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest oligarchs. Interestingly Prokhorov founded the Russian political group Civil Platform in 2012. This is after his first venture into politics in 2011 with the group Right Cause, which ended sourly. Prokhorov later condemned the party as a ‘puppet Kremlin party micromanaged by the “puppet master”, […] Vladislav Y. Surkov’. Civil Platform appeared to be an attempt at redemption. It preached the rights to democratic determination and freedom of the press. At some point it appears that the powers that be saw it crossing a line and stepped in to pull some strings. Prokhorov promptly quit his own party when tensions arose after multiple members of his party were found at a pro-Putin rally in Moscow in 2015. In the 2018 election, the new leader of Civil Platform stated that the party will continue to support President Putin.
It is hard to work out where someone like Prokhorov stands in all this. Whether he is simply a front man who ducks out before any lasting reputable damage is made, or really the shiny knight of the democratic values he preaches. Whatever side he is on, in the end, in this game of smoke screens and crooked rules, you’re never really sure who is getting played.
First published Online, November 2020. Volume 16, Issue 1. Photo: Ostankino (Wikimedia)