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Why the ‘Putin-Oligarch Conspiracy’ is a Tool to Destabilize Russia

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Rostislav Ischenko

In recent weeks, the internet was flooded with content on the development and justification of a conspiracy theory, claiming that under the pressure of the oligarchs, Putin (let me emphasize it is Putin, rather than the Russian Government as a whole) had agreed to the elimination of Novorossiya, and now, in the framework of the Minsk process, is allegedly completing the destruction of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics.

Characteristically, the worse the situation is in Kiev and the more the local media and radicals blame Poroshenko for the Minsk agreement and a “betrayal of Ukraine”, the greater the number of publications in the Russian segment of the Internet devoted to the theme of “betrayal” of Novorossiya by Putin.

The standard format for such claim is made up of three parts:

1. It is noted that the Western sanctions resulted in giant losses for Russian oligarchs who put pressure on Putin to end an active foreign policy and to actually turn Russia into an American dominion.

2. A halt of the August offensive and the beginning of the Minsk process, contrary to the facts, is served as the evil will of Moscow, which is scheming behind militia’s backs with the West. Ignoring the militia’s inability to really develop offensive in great depth. Some militia ‘insiders’ claim that “Mariupol could be taken in two days,” without explaining why they didn’t take not only the Donetsk airport (really well fortified by Stalin), and the town of Schastje, Stanitsa Luganskaja, and have not been able to definitively close the cauldron under Debalcevo. Additionally in this part the role of Strelkov is accentuated, who with almost bare hands for many months fought the armoured hordes of Kiev. Also, contrary to the facts, it is argued that once he was removed from Donbass, the other commanders began to suffer defeat.

3. Finally, in the last part of the thesis is that the Russian Government and Putin personally betrayed and deceived not only Novorossiya, but also the patriotic Russia and as a natural result a change of power in the Kremlin is needed from Putin to a Russian patriot. As a patriot here again Strelkov is often referred to.

This anti-Putin campaign spread across the net like a forest fire and engulfed many respected bloggers. It is obvious that a large part of the people involved (including, most likely, Strelkov with his posse and fans) are in the dark and are just honestly mistaken, infecting their misconceptions onto others. However, the campaign to discredit Putin began not by chance and has a clearly defined goal – a weakening (and, ideally, an overthrow) of the Russian authorities.

By the end of the summer it became clear that the United States suffered a crushing defeat in Ukraine. The collapse of the regime under the load of its own crimes and an economic catastrophe has become a matter of time (the nearest time). Recognition of the Nazi nature of the Ukrainian authorities, at least, by Europe also is brewing. Kiev can no longer rely on military means to solve the problem of Novorossia: the Kiev powers are splitting into warring factions, and Nazi insurgents are less inclined to obey the politicians of Maidan. They clamor to power themselves, and are ready to kill their liberal allies from yesterday. In general, we only have to wait, and Ukraine will fall right into the hands of Putin as a mature fruit. The West should therefore not only accept it, but also bless such a result.

The sanctions did not have a devastating impact on the Russian economy. Falling oil prices may not be too deep and prolonged, to devastate Russian finances, because with a price below $80 a barrel, the Saudis and the American oil companies loose many times faster than the Russian oil and gas sector.

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Liberals were unable under the anti-corruption and “universal” slogans on the street to gather any significant number of people. They have remained a Bohemian crowd, which with its “Rain” and “Echo” became even useful to the Russian government, since they demonstrate the opposition from an unsightly side. They are not the captors of the minds, but greedy amateurs who think the Russian people are cattle and hate them for lack of worship towards themselves. Based on their agenda they cannot rock the domestic political situation in Russia.

But in Russia, there are still the patriots. The patriotic camp brings people together across the political and ideological spectrum. There are the communists (from modern liberal communists to diehard stalinists and leninists, and advocates of a return to the teachings of Marx in his pristine form, not clouded by works of the chiefs of the Russian Revolution). There are the anarchists of all possible shades. There are the monarchists (from constitutional to supporters of the restoration of the monarchy, right down to the fans of the pre-Peter I forms of Russian political life). There are the Orthodox (clerics and the renovationists, black-hundredists and old believers). There are even the Russian Nazis, some of whom are fighting on the side of Kiev, while others support the militia. All in all, this is a very colorful company, whose members in other moments were willing to fight to the last drop of blood with each other, but now joined in the fight for national interests of Russia.

They have one problem: they want instant gratification. They are opponents of political manoeuvring, believe that Putin must simply “stomp his foot” and put the Americans in the Rocky Mountains and the forests of Vermont, and the militia should be strengthened by the Russian army so that within a week or two it would take Kiev. All in all, it’s people like the ones, who in August 1914 in a patriotic stupor smashed the German Embassy, expressed support for the beloved Monarch who started the war, and after two and a half years in February 1917 with no less fury overthrew this Monarch, unable to accept relatively small military difficulties and losses.

These people are the target of a propaganda campaign against sensitive and measured foreign policy style of Putin, who already for fifteen years allowed Russia, while being in a weaker position on the international stage, to win victory after victory, strengthen its authority, while incurring minimal costs.

They are convinced that we can win faster and easier, that Russia still has not eliminated the Nazi revolt in Ukraine just because the leadership is intimidated and is under a spell of some oligarchs. In its ‘light’ version this campaign should weaken public support for Putin’s course, and put him in the opposition of those patriots who are his natural allies. Stricter variant presumes armed patriots, fighting in the Novorossia, to be thrown against Putin, reinforced by the disgruntled by “weak government” patriotic masses of Moscow.

With help of experienced street fighters of patriotic organizations, and ideally, aiding them with armed volunteers from Novorossia, Putin is expected to face such internal political problems, that he will forget about Ukraine.

Russia again should be destroyed with the hands of the impatient Russian patriots, plunging the country into civil conflict. And the fact that the impatient patriots ‘want for the better’ and ‘want more justice’, is not justified. Once I read the memoirs of ordinary gunner, who sharply criticized Stalin for hardhitting and improper planning of strategic operations of World War II. The gunner explained that he was on the front line and he knows better than the Commander-in-Chief “how to fight correctly.”

Impatient patriots look just as ridiculous as the gunner, but can do a lot more damage in their naivete. While breaking the union of Putin and the patriotic public (and some even repeat the slogan “Strelkov for President!”, not realizing that they have bought and sold a cat in the hat — a media image of a hero, and not a real person), the impatient patriots help Ambassador Tefft to solve the unsolvable in the liberal paradigm, universal task of organizing a color revolution in Moscow.

And Putin’s successful 15 years are not convincing enough. They prefer to live within their own phobias and childhood complexes, but it’s time to grow up.

Rostyslav Ischenko, President of the Center for Systemic Analysis and Forecasting

Translated by Kristina Rus

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