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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
March 11, 2017

Publication: Windows on Eurasia
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Shevtsova on 15 Paradoxes of Putin’s Russia

Staunton, VA, March 11, 2017 -  Liliya Shevtsova, a Moscow-based analyst for the Brookings Institution, has once again provided a useful guide to some of the terminology that Russians and analysts of Russia often use without reflecting on the paradoxical quality of much of it and the ways in which that quality undermines their utility. 

In an article published March 11, Shevtsova gave 15 examples of these paradoxes: 

1. Vladimir Putin is the personification of the system of Russian autocracy at the point of its decay. Its vitality is directly disproportional to the length of each such personification. 

2. A thaw is the dream of liberals who believe that the all-powerful will castrate itself and thus become a means for the additional legitimation of the powers that be. 

3. Corruption: Under an autocracy, when power and property are fused, corruption is impossible. Therefor Alexey Navalny is wrong: Prime Minister Medvedev isn’t corrupt: he is a systemic politician. 

4. Political analysis Russian style: A readiness to see in the imitation of democracy a chance for its development which satisfies the Soviet need for optimism and doesn’t anger the powers that be. 

5. Russian intellectual: Provides an attractive visage for the powers-that-be by criticizing in ways that do not harm the authorities. 

6. Ukraine: an object for the resolution of Russian national complexes and phobias and a test of the ability of the West to respond. 

7. America: allows the Russian authorities and society to feel powerful without the threat of revenge for hooliganism and breaking windows. 

8. Germany: an economic giant attempting to hide itself as a political dwarf lest it generate memories about the past. 

9. The EU in Brussels: a ship with a command that has lost control of the situation but hasn’t noticed this yet. 

10. Trumpism: a revolt against longstanding elites. The problem is that it has begun when new responsible elites haven’t yet been formed. 

11. ‘The Russian factor’ in America: the ability of the Kremlin to discredit democratic procedures, but still more, the result of borrowing by the American establishment of the Russian habit of political struggle by making references to enemies. 

12. The world order without the US as hegemon: A Darwinian world of struggle of all against all, which will force all (including Russia) to dream about the return of the Pax Americana. 

13. Feminism: A distraction from the struggle for rights of all in society from whom rights have been taken away. 

14. Russian autocracy: All powerful structures suffering from powerlessness in relation to everything that doesn’t concern their interests. 

15. Oligarchs: Assigned by the authorities to serve their needs.