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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Pluralism for the president of the Russian Federation

Semen NOVOPRUDSKY: “Putin will feel more and more politically isolated”
7 August, 2012 - 00:00

“Putin, go away!”, “Turn your mandate in!”, “Leave!” – with such appeals written on the walkways youth camp Se­li­ger welcomed Vladimir Putin. This was Putin’s third visit there. And if the previous events were organized for purely pro-Kremlin youth, like Nashy (“Ours”) movement, this time the president wished to add approved by the Kremlin oppositionists to the crowd. The shift that was in the camp when the president paid a visit, received an eloquent name Occupy Seliger, an analogy to the American dissident movement Occupy Wall Street.

Moskovsky Komsomolets wrote that the “political shift” talked to Putin about things that did not relate to politics at all. “Such to­pics as pedophilia, MMM 2011, Dalai Lama, changing military service to the contract-based one were discussed. The attempt of having a strong conversation was clearly a fai­lure,” MK said. However, shift leader, famous blogger Dmitry Ternovskiy did not leave Putin without thorny questions. In particular, he reminded him that the judiciary system is politicized and the media are biased. The blogger also reminded the president about the Pussy Riot case: “If these girls did not say your name in the church, I think their detention would have been much shorter.” The hall’s reaction to this was mixed: some people whistled, and some applauded. Putin himself did not comment on that. But when asked whether all of the problems are related to the immutability of power, Putin said that he was able to change the constitution to be elected for the third term, but he did not change it just “for himself,” but instead he “left the president’s post and occupied a more modest position, which is still very important for the life of the state, of course.”

However, Putin did praise the “pluralism” during the debates: “It is good that people with different views on life, art, business, and po­litics are here. In this way an environment is created in which an exchange of information genes is possible, and this is definitely a po­­­si­tive phenomenon.”

The Day asked independent Moscow journalist Semen NOVOPRUDSKY to explain what is hiding behind the “pluralism” of this pro-Kremlin event:

“Seliger is like a Potemkin political village. Moreover, the shift that the president came to meet was previously approved by the Kremlin. It was actually a press conference improvised by Putin. Despite the uncomfortable questions (which were approved by the Kremlin too) from the shift leader, the participants, on the contrary, vowed they loved Putin, wanted to be photographed, dine, or shake hands with him. This is a parallel reality in which Putin not only speaks with his supporters, but also listens to the authorized opponents. In this way the government shows that it is not willing to make compromises with the opposition and is not ready to be more democratic.

“The camp allows Putin to put on a nice political show. At the present time it is hard to imagine Putin’s speech in such format as it was two or three years ago when he met with the artists as a prime minister. Today such a meeting is not that easy to imagine. I hope that in the conditions of a new political reality Putin rea­lizes that he is losing his popularity. Even according to official figures, he knows perfectly well that did not win the pre­sidential elections in Moscow and St. Petersburg (at least he did not get the majority of votes there). The obvious signal for him is the fact that the people he considered political allies around the world are not in power anymore. Therefore it is important to streng­then himself as president of ordinary Russians, as opposed to the so-called creative class. He tries to be the pre­sident of the common people. Putin has never debated with real oppositionists and does not consider himself obliged to make such political contacts.

“Seliger has lost its active political importance. This is an opportunity for Putin to appear in the audience, where he feels like an absolute political master. So he acquires political certainty that he can act as a demigod during a long period of time. This is very important for him, because just like any unchangeable leader, Putin will feel more and more politically isolated.”

By Ihor SAMOKYSH, The Day