Popov: Sobchak is not only against Putin, she’s against Russia


November 3, 2017 – Fort Russ –

By Eduard Popov – translated by Jafe Arnold – 

Vladimir Putin vs. Ksenia Sobchak

Russians have become proudly accustomed to a conservative public and political life. For example, whereas the election of US President Trump was portrayed in Germany in obscene matters, and in Ukraine politicians of the highest rung excelled in forging insulting nicknames and even threats against Trump, in Russia, even Hillary Clinton – who was widely disdained – was not subject to offensive caricatures. 

Although Russians and Ukrainians are, of course, one people, they do harbor various psychological or “mental” differences (as does any large people). The main difference in this regard is attitude towards state authority. Russians (meaning those who before the 1917 revolution were called Great Russians as distinct from “Little Russians”, i.e., Ukrainians) are a state-oriented people whose genius has frequently manifested itself in history in the construction of Great States. Without a state, Russians are little capable of, or interested in, self-government. Hence why, as a rule, Russian emigrants habitually assimilate in a new state by the second or third generation, whereas Ukrainians – rather beautifully – maintain their identities for literally centuries. This, of course, is a consideration made bearing in mind the strict distinction between Little Russian Ukrainians and Galician Ukrainians, who are not to be confused. This is the flip side of Ukrainians’ inability to build a strong, viable state.

We can concede, however, that the above opinion of ours was recently dealt a heavy blow when when one of those females, who (as they said in the “good old days”) is of the sort “not accepted in polite society,” Ksenia Sobchak, announced her intention to run in the Russian presidential elections. Ksenia Sobchak is, to quote the American lexicon of politically correct expressions, a woman of “alternative appearance”, most likely Jewish, and the host of the scandalous TV show “Dom-2.” As far as I can tell, Sobchak could be called a Russian-Jewish equivalent of Paris Hilton. Her strong side is her arrogance and absolute self-confidence. 

Indeed, we should recognize in her the presence of a real personality, albeit of a special type. During debates, Sobchak defeated the radical opposition candidate, Aleksey Navalny, head on. When during the Maidan she interviewed one of the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition (Germany’s candidate for the leader of Ukraine), Vladimir Klitschko, she challenged him on an intellectual level and judged his intellect, not his person.

Unfortunately, Ksenia Sobchak is not an alien in Russian politics. She is the daughter of the infamous first post-Soviet mayor of Saint Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak (for whom Vladimir Putin worked as a deputy) and the Altai region senator, Ludmila Narusova. Mr. Sobchak became famous as a man prone to alcoholism and absolute incompetence in managing his megapolis. Later he was convicted on numerous counts of bribery, to escape which he fled to Paris, where he died in infamy. Narusova, meanwhile, is infamous for her raging Russophobia and complete lack of professionalism.

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The majority of the “old” political establishment in Russia are products of the Communist Party and Komsomol nomenclature and layers of professional cynics with little in common with ideologically-motivated communists. The predatory privatization of the Russian people’s property was organized by the dogmatic fan of the Chicago school of economics and former editor of the journal Communist, Yegor Gaidar (the son of a senior communist functionary) and the former CPSU member Anatoly Chubais ( the son of a teacher of Marxism-Leninism). Gaidar’s “reforms” did more damage to the Russian economy than the whole Nazi invasion of the USSR. Ksenia Sobchak boasts more of a practical mind than the latter guru of Russian liberals. 

As far as my level of proficiency in modern American affairs goes, I can say that there is, if not one similarity, then some obvious parallels between this numerous part of the Russian establishment (the classical Aristotelian understanding of “elites” does not allow the term to be used for this class) to which Sobchak belongs, and Hillary Clinton’s radical supporters. Russian ultra-liberals are distinguished by blatant Russophobia (as Dostoevsky said, the main trait of a Russian liberal is hate for all things Russians), social Darwinism (or what I call social Nazism – hatred and contempt for social “pariahs”), and globalism. By virtue of their irrational Russophobia, Russian liberals, mostly Jewish, fully support Ukrainian Nazis despite the latter’s devout anti-Semitism. For me this is a mystery since anti-Semitism has always been a lot less common among Great Russians than among Little Russians.

Russian media is actively discussing the reasons which have prompted Ksenia Sobchak to nominate her candidacy for president. The latest poll from November 2nd puts her support at only 6.9%. Nevertheless, she will win a certain percentage of votes which I suspect will exceed Navalny’s (if he were allowed to participate). 

Most interesting of all to us is who is behind Sobchak’s announcement and what their aims are. There are different theories on this account, including conspiratorial versions alleging that Sobchak’s campaign is a Kremlin project designed to steal votes from Navalny. Supporters of this theory refer to Sobchak’s late father’s former relationship with Vladimir Putin. This theory is, in my opinion, unconvincing. First of all, as said above, the majority of the Russian establishment belongs to the former communist and other nomenclatures. Only in recent years has “Putin’s call” to form a new managerial elite out of the democratic “bottom” begun to gain momentum. Secondly, the quasi-program with which Sobchak is running is fundamentally detrimental to Vladimir Putin’s state program. 

Taking into consideration Sobchak’s cheekiness and her ability to work on the instincts of youth raised on Americanized TV shows, she is quite capable of wining a sufficiently large constituency. As has been known since ancient times, it is easier to reach down than to climb up, as is introducing a number of destructive ideas into the Russian political space and pinning them there rather than constructing anything new. 

Sobchak has already spoken out against the referendum in Crimea, a point which is being widely discussed given the importance of the “Crimean consensus” to Russian politics. But still in the periphery of the public’s attention are this “one-dimensional person’s” social views which, judging by her statements and habit to call everyone below her, especially the older generation “social losers”, are relatable to the paradigm of what I’ve called “social Nazism.”

I believe that the forces behind Sobchak are the very same that support Navalny. Their goal is legitimizing in Russia’s political and ideological space certain forces and ideas which are purely destructive to Russia’s social and national existence. These forces also want to impose a “cultural revolution” in Russia and thereby gain a foothold. 

Of course, Sobchak is not alone in her Russophobic and anti-social views. There are many such people in the Russian establishment, and the oligarch class is composed almost exclusively of them, as is the bureaucracy to a large extent. In fact, it just so happens that the higher up the official ladder one is, the higher level to which they represent this group.

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Since his very first months as President, Putin has begun working on educating and promoting into power a new generation of elites. If the old nomencalture is not replaced with a new layer of administrators, the struggle against the American Empire will be lost.

In conclusion, allow me to add that the above-said is the result of my own reflections, and I have no claim to insider information. I have not met such arguments in Russian political analyst circles where, on the contrary, it is commonplace to “primitivize” the problem by paying attention to the scandalous aspects of Sobchak’s personality and behavior. I would like to be wrong, but this is to me more pathetic than it is comical. 

Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public Initiatives. 

Jafe Arnold is Special Editor of Fort Russ, Special Projects Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of Eurasianist Internet Archive. Holding a Bachelors in European Cultures from the University of Wroclaw (Poland), Arnold is currently undertaking his Masters in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. 


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