It implies a defiant disregard for human and civil rights, as well as the values of civil society. In this sense, it was no accident, and was in fact very symptomatic, that a military prosecutor’s office decided to block the UN website
(though it was not actually carried out), as the UN represents an organization where values alien to those of the current Russian authorities are concentrated. Neither was the hasty and demonstrative destruction of the actual and symbolic heritage of Academician Andrei Sakharov an accident – the Sakharov Foundation was declared an “undesirable organization” and the Sakharov Center was evicted from its premises in Moscow, which had been indefinitely allotted by the state.
It is also telling that, for example, the Meduza
news website, a model of modern Russian media, which had long ago been declared a “foreign agent,” was also named an “undesirable organization.” Spreading values of liberal humanism and non-violence is precisely what was found undesirable by the state where Sergei Mironov, the leader of a parliamentary faction, poses with a sledgehammer sent by Yevgeny Prigozhin, while former President Dmitri Medvedev appears in public in a freshly tailored French tunic, looking less like Stalin than a North Korean leader or the TV presenter Solovyov.
The sledgehammer is a symbol of extrajudicial violence, which is being justified and even romanticized. The French tunic symbolizes the country’s totalitarian past, which is a model for today’s authorities and a segment of society.
Thanks to such an opinion leader as Prigozhin, the heroism of the criminal world is taking root in the mass consciousness. The new hero is an imprisoned criminal – even one who has committed monstrous crimes (for example, murdering his own mother
) – who is redeeming himself by taking out the enemy. He is a “real man,” unlike people who even during this “people’s war” are cowardly trying to live their pre-war life and maintain normality. From now on, normal is abnormal, standard is nonstandard.Who is driving the agenda
Of course, this is a fact of the regime that Putin has been building for more than 20 years and has finally finished. In such a regime, the value of human life tends toward zero. Now, value is found only in the willingness to risk one’s life for Putin and his inner circle, who are obsessed with archaic conspiracy theories.
The regime’s institutional foundations, the foundations of statehood, are crumbling: authoritarian rule-making and law enforcement are eroding the very foundations of law, while Prigozhin, the leader of criminal elements who are declared heroes, is becoming a source of “legislative” initiatives. As soon as Prigozhin – who willingly poses, as the new aesthetic dictates, against the backdrop of fresh military burial grounds (rather resembling mass graves) – proposed
adding an article to the Criminal Code providing penalties for discrediting former convicts who are fighting in Ukraine, Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin took up the idea with enthusiasm.
Evidently, “Putin’s chef
” is ingraining a criminal subculture, shaping a new ethic and aesthetic, and dictating the state’s legislative agenda. And parliament is becoming his instrument. To boost their stature, statesmen like Mironov and Volodin are trying to get closer to the new Russian “macho” – Prigozhin. The power of the informal leader of the contemporary “savage division” has been consolidated by state rituals: surviving criminals are awarded “For Courage” medals
, which recall the heroism of soldiers who fought in the Great Patriotic War.
An informalization of power and its practices is taking place. For example, in the new circumstances, so-called “parallel” – i.e. counterfeit – imports are becoming the norm.