The Big Issue On The Campaign Trail

  • Rusia
  • 0
  • 506 Views
  • 21 February 2018

As a Russian historian, I could not help but notice the not so subtly obvious. Every night on Rossiya 1 and Perviy Kanal, the candidates have been talking about Russian history like it is going out of fashion.

They and the Russian public are well aware of the urgent issues. Indeed, I could use up my words listing them. Yet, conduct a simple Google or Yandex search and the candidates are all stood by historical monuments.

President Putin has laid flowers at a cemetery dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Siege of Leningrad. He also visited the historical park in Volgograd on the anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. In both locations, he spoke to veterans of the Great Patriotic War, many of whom thanked him for his leadership.

Ksenia Sobchak has been to the Golden Ring city of Vladimir to meet with youngsters at Vladimir State University. In Ingushetia, Sobchak visited a memorial to victims of Stalin’s terror, and said, “If we remember more, maybe some will stop calling Stalin an ‘effective manager’.

Pavel Grudinin, the KPRF, and the alternative Communist Party (Communists of Russia) have laid wreaths in Lenin’s Mausoleum. Zyuganov, at a campaign event for Grudinin, used the opportunity to evoke the centenary of the October Revolution as a comparison for the challenges facing Russia today.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky was caught playing with various types of rifle and hanging out with veterans. He wants to ban foreign words and replace them with traditional Russian equivalents. For instance, instead of ‘bar’ he believes Russians should use ‘kabak’.

Sergei Baburin recently laid flowers on a monument dedicated to the veterans of the Afghanistan War. He has also pledged better pensions and medical care for military veterans.

So, why the fixation with the past when the election is about Russia’s future?

Public politics are very limited in Russia. Most Russians do not vote, show interest in elections or even join political parties. Russians do not write to their national representatives as Americans or Britons do. Protests tend to be relatively small scale and are, relatively speaking, a new phenomenon in contemporary politics.

History has been a high profile national topic ever since the USSR’s collapse. People are always willing to discuss Russian history, one of the main drivers of democratic change since Perestroika. It is an area where politicians can score points.

Evoking the memory of the Great Patriotic War, notable figures and cultural traditions can unify the Russian population. The past is used as a way of explaining the current situation and justifying a particular policy. The past, after all, is something much bigger and more meaningful. It is familiar and plays on people’s emotions.

Russia has a democratic framework in place. Candidates are receiving equal television coverage in accordance with Russian law. The last Duma elections were praised by the OSCE as the most transparent since the Soviet collapse. However, Russia is a young democracy and the democratic culture is still maturing. Politicians are still not wholly accountable and there is a real fear of anarchy, revolution and chaos amongst the population.

Focusing on a past filled with heroism, military glories or rich cultural traditions serves as a healthy distraction. The presidential election, be sure, is not a vote on Russian history and which version is preferable. Nor will a candidate’s particular stance on historical events see them elected.
Perhaps the best equivalent one might use is the role of religion in US elections. No American (except perhaps Mr. Trump) can seek elected office without professing anything but profound faith. Faith is something much bigger and is often used as a policy’s moral justification, whether it is guns, abortion or healthcare.

The same is true of history in Russian elections. It is a necessary talking point and the candidates must be well versed in it.

Russia is not the only country who relies on a positive history for moral and policy justifications. But this election shows what the West really does not get about Russia. Putin did not happen by accident. Neither did Perestroika for that matter.

There are important historical circumstances, which explain Putin’s rule, the country he governs and the system as a whole. In 2000, the Russian population was ready for someone like Putin. And to say, as many do, his re-election is certain completely misses the point. For all the problems Russia may have today, its history shows that the Russians are not ready to see him leave (yet).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prof. Evgeny Pashentsev spoke on “Artificial Intelligence and Issues of National and International Psychological Security” at the round table at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

  • 0
  • 57 Views
  • 9 December 2018

On 28th of November 2018 at the MFA RF was held a round table "Freedom of Expression in the Digital Environment in the Context of Discussion of International Information Security Issues at Specialized International Platforms". It was organized by the Information and Press Department (IPD) at the MFA RF, MIA "Russia Today" (RossiyaSegodnya), Russian Committee of UNESCO Program "Information for All" and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre. Two plenary sess

citește mai mult

A Russian History Lesson

  • 0
  • 589 Views
  • 7 September 2018

History has long been an object of reform since the collapse of the USSR. It has been used as an impetus for championing democratic change and explaining the chaos of the Russian Federation’s first decade. In addition, it is an important part of Vladimir Putin’s policy rhetoric to champion Russia’s ‘great powerness’ (derzhavnost’).

In the last twenty-eight years, history in schools has journeyed from one single view en

citește mai mult

Russia – four paintings from July

  • 0
  • 741 Views
  • 20 July 2018

The World Cup Is Over – What’s Next For Russia?

This was a successful world cup on many fronts. The Russian people showed the world a different side to themselves often overlooked in the media – one that was welcoming, warm and hospitable. It was a world cup where some of the ‘non-traditional’ broke through. It was well organised and greatly received by the fans at home and abroad.

citește mai mult

Azebaijan, cheia geostrategică a Asiei Centrale

  • 0
  • 630 Views
  • 13 February 2018

După destrămarea URSS, Azerbaijanul a fost statul ex-sovietic care alături de    republicile Baltice a avut o dezvoltare constantă și durabilă. Desigur, aici pot fi adresate unele critici regimului de la Baku cu privire la democrație, care în opinia multor analiști este doar mimată la Baku. Însă faptul adevărat este că acest stat a reușit să își gestioneze eficient resursele de care dispune pentru a deveni o societate prosperă. I se atribuie Azerbaijanului etichet

citește mai mult

What Can Democrats Learn From Alabama’s Doug Jones?

  • 0
  • 746 Views
  • 30 November 2017

In ordinary circumstances, Doug Jones would already be preparing to move to Washington DC. The former prosecutor famous for convicting KKK members for a church bombing is up against gay bashing, God and gun lovin’, twice kicked out of elected office, Judge Roy Moore. A man who has eight accusers of sexual assault, all of whom were underage at the time of the allegations.

Yet, if one looks at all the recent polls, they show a ti

citește mai mult

Azerbaidjanul, petrolul și românii

  • 0
  • 1159 Views
  • 7 October 2016

Întotdeauna, statele sunt nevoite să își apere poziția pe marea tablă a geopoliticii, uitându-se cu grijă la vecini, dar și la puterile regionale. Această regulă presupune nu doar poziția ofensivă, ci și valorificare atuurilor, astfel încât să devină piese care contează pe „câmpul de analiză”, iar nu elemente neglijabile, care sunt măturate dintr-o dată de cei ce au suficientă putere să mânuiască piesele.

Caucazul, ca regiune geopolitică, nu face nici ea excepție

citește mai mult

Falii și axe geopolitice de impact pentru securitatea globală (III)

  • 0
  • 272 Views
  • 19 October 2018

  1. Rolul Japoniei în regiune și în plan global

Poziţionarea contemporană a Japoniei – rolul său politic în lume – nu corespunde puterii sale economice. Condiţiile politice impuse de către Statele Unite Japoniei, la mijlocul secolului XX, dar şi prudenţa liderilor politici şi a popoarelor din statele care au fost ocupate de Japonia militaristă îi limitează guvernului de la Tokyo libertatea în elab

citește mai mult

Falii și axe geopolitice de impact pentru securitatea globală (II)

  • 0
  • 597 Views
  • 26 September 2018

  1. Statele Unite ale Americii: de la puterea globală la superputerea într-o lume multipolară

Mai întâi de toate SUA în perioada lui Donald Trump și-au însușit o abordare neoconservatoare în proiecțiile sale geopolitice. Spre exemplu, în viziunea strategică a lui Holms – de la Fundația Heritage, Statele Unite trebuie să se repoziționeze confor

citește mai mult

Falii și axe geopolitice de impact pentru securitatea globală (I)

  • 0
  • 577 Views
  • 15 September 2018

Introducere

Geopolitica se ocupă de istoria frontierelor și a diverselor regimuri pe care le are aceasta, utilizând conceptul de frontieră, graniță, izobare, etc. Și aici se relevă o luptă a formelor geografice, construite și proiectate în afara resurselor politice și ale puterii[1]. Teoria frontierei a istoricului american F.G.Terner a devenit una referințală în mediul geop

citește mai mult