Fear & loathing on the home front
Angry patriots, oligarch in-fighting, and a deluge of "security" measures
It's been an eventful week in Russia.
In chronological order:
Prigozhin says war is being sabotaged by Russia’s Deep State
Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin published an article on April 14 in which he made the following claims:
“The strategic role of Bakhmut is not so great. Bakhmut is followed by Seversk, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka, Druzhkovka and Chasov Yar … [T]he capture of Bakhmut itself will not ensure a short-term victory over Ukraine, the road to the Dnieper, or even the capture of Donbass.”
“The US does not need a quick war”. Washington wants to drag the conflict out as long as possible in order to destabilize Russia and “collapse [it] into many principalities”.
Russia’s Deep State, “a community of near-state elites that operate independently of the political leadership of the state”, is actively sabotaging the war effort.
To prevent the Deep State from making concessions to Washington, Russia should announce the successful completion of the “special military operation” and consolidate territorial gains.
To summarize: An oligarch who is spearheading Russia’s only discernable offensive in Ukraine says the war will continue for the foreseeable future, even if/when Bakhmut is captured. Meanwhile, a powerful group of oligarchs and bureaucrats want to negotiate a backdoor deal with Washington that would have disastrous consequences for Russia.
Shocking and outrageous claims? Only if you’ve been getting your “war updates” from YouTube.
Strelkov’s “angry patriots” release manifesto
Igor Strelkov’s Club of Angry Patriots published a manifesto on April 17. A few highlights:
“The opportunity for a quick and bloodless victory over the Ukrainian state, which has become a weapon of NATO, was missed back in 2014 by the signing of the treacherous Minsk agreements. The military operation launched in 2022 could have gone according to a completely different scenario, but mediocre organization at the strategic, operational and tactical level led our country to a war of attrition.”
“Defeat in the war will lead Russia to catastrophic consequences. The United States and NATO states do not hide their intentions to dismember the Russian Federation and bring the Russian people into submission under a new [Western] yoke.”
“The military-political leadership of Russia does not realize the gravity of the situation.”
“Those who have transferred their capital and their loyalty to the West continue to remain in power and big business. They are ready for sabotage, as well as for direct collusion with the enemy and, therefore, betrayal. We do not rule out that they are preparing a pro-Western coup, capitulation and, consequently, the dismemberment of Russia.”
“We will counter this scenario [betrayal by those loyal to the West] with all available means.”
Notably, Strelkov and Prigozhin, who don’t particularly like each other (if you are familiar with their colorful history), are basically saying the exact same thing.
Immortal Regiment canceled nationwide; May Day marches scaled back; a general crackdown on unruly proles
Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on April 18 that writing unflattering things on the internet about Russian government officials is a felony punishable with a fine of up to 40,000 rubles, community service for up to 360 hours, or “corrective labor” for up to one year.
On the same day, it was announced that the “Immortal Regiment”—a procession on Victory Day when Russians honor their relatives who fought in the Great Patriotic War—would be canceled nationwide.
Also on April 18: St. Petersburg canceled its May Day march, citing “COVID restrictions”—joining the growing list of regions that have zapped Pervoye Maya festivities due to alleged Virus and/or security concerns.
We hate to point out the elephant in the room, but how can Russia be fighting to “denazify” Ukraine while depriving its citizens the right to honor their relatives who …. fought the Nazis?
And how is it that residents of St. Petersburg go about their daily lives without any meaningful “epidemiological” restrictions, but for some reason aren’t allowed to walk down the street carrying signs that read “Peace! Labor! May!”—because of “coronavirus”?
On the same day—April 18—legislation was adopted that allows authorities to deprive naturalized citizens of their Russian citizenship, without trial, if they are accused of discrediting the Russian military.
Yes, Saltykov-Shchedrin’s timeless aphorism, “the severity of Russian laws is alleviated by the lack of obligation to fulfil them”, still holds true today. But this is excessive even by Russian standards.
“Russia’s digital sectarians have miscalculated”
A far-reaching bill on electronic military subpoenas, and the creation of a database of all military-eligible citizens, was signed into law on Saturday after being blitzed through the Federal Assembly.
Katyusha.org—a pro-Putin, pro-SMO alt media outlet run by conservative/Orthodox firebrand Andrey Tsyganov—described the new law as a “social rating system for conscripts and mobilized [reservists]” in an article published on April 18:
It seems that it is no coincidence that only three hours passed between the appearance of the text of the law in the updated second reading and its final adoption by the parliament … [Under the law,] a citizen without a court decision is deprived of the right to free movement, to work as an individual entrepreneur (that is, the right to work), and the right to own and sell real estate. […]
If, by tightening the screws, the digital sectarians in power hope to cause a surge of patriotism … we believe that they miscalculated. In practice, the effect will be just the opposite.
Finally, a rhetorical question—who is rocking society during a hot war with the West, and why?
What the heck is happening in Russia?
We report, you decide.