Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 44, addressed Russians in his daily video address on Sunday. Silence equals complicity, he said. “Silence comes close to complicity.” According to Selensky, those who remain silent and “do not fight evil” “support war”.
Zelensky’s words may have struck a chord with the Russian public. Suspicions about Moscow’s military actions in its southwestern neighbor appear to be growing in Russia as well.
Russian economist Andrey Yakovlev says there are no winners in Russia, only losers. This could lead to tensions with the elite that President Vladimir Putin has so far supported. Yakovlev is convinced that Putin’s support is beginning to wane.
A “very difficult” situation
The economist was for many years the director of the Institute for Industry and Market Studies at the prestigious Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow. Since January he has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for East European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. In a long conversation with “Spiegel” Yakovlev commented on the current economic situation in his native country. The economic situation is “very difficult”.
Many traders are in despair. “One thing has always been clear in our conversations with company representatives: these people would not have started the war. This is also a problem with Western perception: many people think that Russia and Putin’s regime are the same, stable and can continue for another ten years. According to the leading economist, this is a “wrong”.
According to Yakovlev, most businessmen do not support the political trend, but have no influence on it. The business world has no choice but to do what it always does: somehow survive. Of course, the Russian economy benefits from this. But you have to understand that this has nothing to do with supporting Putin.
“Not back to normal”
The Russian economy is very relevant. Russian companies “are used to always expecting the worst.” However, supply failures due to sanctions cannot be compensated by imports from Asia. Supply chain disruptions take longer than initially anticipated. “Companies are just beginning to understand that there is no going back to normal.”
Yakovlev learned from his speeches that “most businessmen know very well who is responsible for their problems” – and Putin soon decided to be wary of his own people.
The propaganda portrays overwhelming support for the Kremlin ruler. “But I think it’s no more than 25 to 30 percent,” says Yakovlev. This group is almost as large as the group that opposes the war. “If the economic situation continues to deteriorate, these people will react”.
Sanctions hit critical thinking citizens
Most of the sanctions that were imposed hit the people – and especially the citizens at large – who think critically. The urban middle class “has so far bought Western goods, used Visa and Mastercard. They traveled to other countries, read free media, and shared overall Western values.” The sanctions will hit those who are more critical of the prevailing trend.
Yakovlev: “There are no winners in Russia today, which leads to elite tensions. Today, only a small group around Putin makes decisions. By doing so, they damage the interests of large sections of the elite. This provokes serious tensions within this elite. These depend on the duration of the war and the deterioration of the economic situation. will increase.”
But with Putin at the helm, “it makes no sense to hope for change. The president has cut off the possibility of stepping down. (Case)
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“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”