FW: Some Questions for the Leader

Richard Fidler

From: Russian Dissent <russiandissent@...>
Sent: March 10, 2023 1:09 PM

Subject: Some Questions for the Leader


If we could talk back to Mr. Putin  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Some Questions for the Leader

If we could talk back to Mr. Putin

Mar 10




Roman Kunitsyn

The message of the President of Russia to the Federal Assembly took place on February 21, 2023 in accordance with the Russian constitution, albeit with a great delay. President Putin arrived at Moscow's Gostiny Dvor venue and read a two-hour speech to deputies, senators, governors, heads of religious organizations, and big businessmen; to, that is, to all the modern beau monde. The listeners were satisfied. Meticulous analysis has already calculated that those present in the hall applauded the president 53 times, or approximately every two minutes, and four times (once every half an hour!) the hall stood up and applauded. Judging by the responses of those who were lucky enough to see the president's speech live, they did not have any questions for the speaker. Which is understandable - from the speech it was clear that their current prosperity would continue, despite the disturbing news from the southwestern borders. Putin promised to stick firmly to the market course, which means that there will be no nationalization, but there will be solid budget "gifts," to, for example, construction oligarchs. Mind you, the oligarchs already live well; Vagit Alikperov, for example, increased his fortune by more than $2 billion in January 2023, and Alexei Mordashov, the owner of Severstal, increased by $1.5 billion.

On the other hand, the audience of many millions of ordinary Russians who watched the speech on TV or online had many problems and questions.

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But they had questions long before that day. That is why they waited with such impatience for the President's speech, which kept getting delayed and postponed. The farther it went on, the more they were lost in conjectures as to what exactly was going on with the "Motherland." Unfortunately, the television propagandists, sickeningly tired of seemingly everyone except themselves and their two dozen viewers, did not give any clear answer to these questions. They said something, of course, but so chaotically and incomprehensibly, contradicting themselves at every step, that the majority of the country's population experienced a disorientation of their worldview.

Note, that I'm not talking about even convinced oppositionists. They - both non-aligned leftists and radical liberals - have long since developed their understanding of what was happening. They do not need the speeches of the president. We are talking about the loyal majority that generally supports the president and his course (no matter what the opposition says, and there are still many of them among the “common people”). They believed the authorities when they told them that they were conducting a “special operation against the Nazis,” and that they were not at all engaged in what is now forbidden to be called by its true name. They have sent their mobilized sons, husbands, and brothers to the front. They equipped them at their own expense, since many of the necessities stored in army warehouses, as it turned out, had been stolen. Some of them now receive condolences and coffins, and most are forced to "tighten their belts" because the prices of food and consumer goods are rising, and salaries cannot keep up with them.

They believe that they have the right to receive answers to the questions that concern them and are vital to them, to get it not from a military commissar or a regional official who tomorrow will deny what was said, but from the mouth of the president, whom they still believe.

What are these questions? I have already begun to speak, but now I will formulate them more clearly.

The first is why a special operation, which usually takes no more than a few days, a few weeks maximum, has turned into a full-scale armed conflict that has been going on for a year and, judging by the President’s actions (giving vacations to the members of the Special Military Operation every six months, for example), will last at least several years? If this is due to intelligence errors and miscalculations of the political leadership, then what conclusions should be drawn from these errors, including those involving personnel?

Second - what is the purpose of the SMO? Demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, coupled with pushing NATO out of our borders, as mentioned at the beginning? Or the protection of Donbass from bombardments, or the protection of our border lands, which until February 2022 were never hit by shells and rockets from the Ukrainian side? The president and his ideologues named and the first, and second, and third reason, but never explained why they have change their minds so quickly. It is noteworthy that not only were none of these goals achieved in the last year, but exactly the opposite happened. An attempt to demilitarize Ukraine has led to a Ukraine is now much better armed than a year ago, and with the most modern Western weapons. An attempt to denazify ended with an increase in the approval of the nationalist Bandera among the citizens of Ukraine (from 22% in 2012 to 74% in the spring of 2022). The "defense of Donbass" was carried out with such elephantine grace that it is still being bombed and the number of casualties has increased dramatically (in 2021 there were about 100 victims of the UAF bombing, and in 2022 more than a thousand).

Finally, an attempt to put up a barrier against NATO has resulted in Finland and Sweden joining NATO (which means NATO troops soon to be stationed near St. Petersburg), and Ukraine, though formally remaining a non-NATO member, is in fact in the closest coordination with the armies of the alliance.

And again, no one at the top even tries to admit mistakes and understand who is to blame for the fact that the goal of the SMO achieved exactly its opposite.

The third question is what are the losses of Russia in this conflict? The Ministry of Defense reported on the losses many months ago, the authorities with cheerful cynicism repeat the words that "we have not started yet" and "we have a large resource." Foreign media and internet sites are spreading such frightening figures that they cause deep despondency among the Russian population.

The fourth question is why, during this protracted conflict, has Russia continued to sell oil and gas to the West, which propaganda and the top leaders themselves call the enemy? Why does Russia continue to pay millions of dollars to Ukraine for the transit of gas and oil through its territory? Obviously, these millions go to the Ukrainian budget and turn into bullets and shells that kill Russian servicemen and volunteers. Why, finally, is the command regrouping troops in such a way that it suspiciously resembles a retreat from previously occupied territories?

The fifth question - why did the army find itself in such a state that people even have to buy weapons and equipment themselves? The media reported that about 1 million uniforms were stolen from warehouses and the perpetrators were not found or punished! People take loans to supply their mobilized relatives with the necessary things! The authorities, the prosecutor's office, the police are silent about this.

And the sixth question - why do any attempts to criticize the outrages that are happening cause a sharp repressive reaction? People are fined, imprisoned for "fake news," the media and Telegram channels are closed. We have no provision for censorship under the constitution; civil liberties, on the contrary, are indeed guaranteed by that document. No martial law has been introduced in the country, and formally we are generally at peace with Ukraine and continue to recognize its government and its borders under the relevant treaty. True, several former Ukrainian regions have been declared part of the Russian Federation, but it seems that we have not canceled international agreements that are incompatible with the current state of affairs.

All this looks like absurdity, but I don’t want to laugh. For this absurdity is associated with blood, human sacrifices, broken destinies.

When will the president explain all this, say what is happening, what the government expects from the people, and why it is behaving so incomprehensibly? With these thoughts, most ordinary Russians, in general loyal citizens, clung to the TV screens on February 21 and severe disappointment met them. The President only repeated the old propaganda theses, which even his most devoted supporters are beginning to doubt. Then he promised a lot of money, said that he would return the Soviet education system and that new houses and roads would be built.

Nothing about mistakes, about those responsible for them, about goals, about victims. Sometimes there was a feeling that it was 2019, the pre-Covid year, when nothing special was happening in the country, everything was quiet, calm, decorous and boring. Such a signal, apparently, was indeed conveyed to the listeners from those who wrote the speech. So far, they say, the leader is with us, everything is stable. Although the stability, for which the "common people" loved the former Putin, has long been an illusion. Tell it to those who have gathered in their house around the coffin of a recently mobilized household member. Tell this to the villagers of the Belgorod region, who are hiding in basements from rockets. Tell this to a diabetic who ended up in the hospital because he stopped receiving an imported drug due to sanctions. Tell the grandmother who came to the store and found that the price of sausage has risen and now she does not have enough money for it. Tell the student who ended up in jail because he posted a bold post on the internet.

The leader, of course, can continue to remain silent about the details of that “plan” according to which everything has supposedly been going on for more than a year. But the Kremlin authorities should remember: every day the common people's trust in them will shrink, no matter what their court sociologists tell them. Then people get tired of waiting for answers. And they, as it was sung in the song, will straighten their backs and solve all the problems. This means that they will no longer need a "wise and omnipotent" leader.

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