When you study the history of Russia, you might as well ask yourself a natural and a topical question: why the ancient Kievan Russia and Muscovy collapsed? Why did they break up into several principalities, even though their territories were inhabited primarily by so-called 'Slavs' (there were no 'foreigners' or 'blacks' or external adversaries like Tatars or Mongols)?
The whole thing is that Moscow princes were imposing such an unbearable levy on local princes (which is now called taxes in Russia) that the princes were rebelling, and the local riffraff would always support their local princes ('apanage princelings' so to say).
Right now Moscow is conducting similar policies: the center takes everything away, and as a result 85% of the funds are circulating in Moscow, and the governors have to travel to the capital (like foot messengers from among the peasants of early 20th century) to try to get some of their money back.
In Russia today the center is the one coordinating and reallocating funds between the provinces; and the funds are mainly made on selling oil, gas and non-ferrous metals. But as soon as natural resources start running out or some alternative energy sources come up (which the entire world is working on nowadays), Russia will start slipping down into a bottomless precipice and will inevitably collapse into small territories.
A Russian functionary, no matter what ethnic background he might be, knows no sense of proportion and will never act according to the circumstances. This is why a pulse of an ordinary Russian citizen remains steady when they hysterically proclaim «great and indivisible Russia» from top podiums and from church bell towers. Because an ordinary Russian citizen knows for sure that when Russian functionaries come to power they do nothing but satisfy their insatiable appetites and fill their pockets with state funds.
But the people are living on their own and digging in stinking dumpsters and garbage cans. And ragged impoverished Russian old men and women, who worked for «dear Soviet government» their whole life are now dragging out a miserable existence, spending the rest of their days in rundown slums and panhandling at each intersection.
All entrances into subway stations are packed with panhandlers. You can barely 'survive' on Russian pensions and wages, but you can’t live on it. But Putin’s mass media are trying to convince otherwise: they claim that mafia is the one sending the old people to go begging, and that panhandling is a form of business.
Let’s take a look a few years back. When Boris Yeltsin and his 'Slavic accomplices' were signing the treaty about the dismissal of the USSR, the latter was not in existence already. Yeltsin only recorded that fact. One of the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed was strict hierarchy of colonized nations. The center was literally strangling the Soviet colonies, which were no longer willing to remain in the position of 'little brothers'. Insane senile old men from the Kremlin, who found a permanent comfy hideout in the Central Committee of the Communist Party, moved the northern nations under canopies and roofs from their yurts and tents, and were regulating the number of deer in their flocks and deadlines for their insemination. It even used to go as far as coordinating a name of a street, a lane or a museum in any Soviet Union’s colony with Moscow and get special resolution from the so-called «Central Soviet Council of Ministers».
At the same time in any Western state municipal legislature has always had priority over the central one on all everyday issues: concerning ecology, agriculture, housing, etc.
In the West a central government cannot claim even a tiny piece of land without permission from local administration.
I can remember how Canadian Prime Minister (Trudeau, I think) was trying to build a golf course without coordinating it with the local authorities, and he almost faced resignation for that.
And the Constitutions of each state in the US have so many rights that the republics «integrated into the Russian Federation» have never even dreamed of. So, it wasn’t Boris the Boozer who ruined the Soviet Union, but it was over-centralization and idiocy of the Kremlin’s long-livers.
Right now in Russia you can see the same centrifugal tendencies accompanied by brave reports about strengthening the «vertical line of power». Moreover, the creation of seven territorial circuits only increased the number of new functionaries. Russia was already famous for its largest number of functionaries in the world. In Russia there were more of them than there are in India, US or China. Even during the Soviet power there was no such number of officials.
Russian functionaries are breeding like locusts that devour anything on their way. Today Russia is not producing anything that would conform to the international standards, except for weapons and space equipment.
So what Russia is going to be living on when oil, gas and non-ferrous metals run out? Capitals and investments, which the Kremlin was counting on, are not coming to Russia. Western companies are afraid of Russian mobster legislation.
Every law has a loophole. This is the Russian principle of lawmaking. There can be one law in Russia today, and another law tomorrow. Russian customs are working differently each month too.
At the same time the entire economic ingenuity of the Russian government is concentrated exclusively on distributing the profit from oil and gas. Any fluctuations at the oil market have a direct impact on the Russian budget. As soon as they start talking about lowering oil prices, Russian budget starts coming apart at the seams and social programs get repealed, including raises of pensions, which are promised each year.
So, at the moment when the «blood of the earth» runs out, or when the prices drop to the critical minimum, Russia will face a risk to turn into the worldwide dump of radioactive wastes. Because there will be no other way to make hard currency in Russia. This tendency can already be seen today.
Russia's future is pretty unpleasant. This country already has 60 million alcoholics and 18 million drug addicts (they even have drug addicts in faraway villages out in the country, called «bears’ corners», and even in taiga corners of Siberia). Then, at least 78 million can be crossed out of this life right off the bat, since these are nothing but irrecoverable human waste that can no longer be restored.
At the same time Russia is virtually a feudal and bandit state. In a jural state the law is controlled by the legislature, and not by some scroungers in the executive government, including the president.
Russia is a savage country, where there is no separation of powers into executive, legislative and judicial branches. It is laughable when Russian 'patriots' for example keep saying that a child was taken away from Russian ballerina Zakharova and left in France, but President Jacques Chirac is taking no measures, i.e. he is not interfering in the judicial system and is not demanding that the child is returned to the mother. Russian ordinary citizens can never understand that if the French President even picks up the phone and calls the Judge, he will be forced to resign immediately.
Bush would face a similar fate if he tries to 'influence' on some court decision. But in Russia any top official is a czar, a god and a military commander.
Belief in a good czar the father and czarina the mother determines the behavior and the worldview of a Russian ordinary citizen. As long as the 'master' passes a 'good' law and the problem is solved by itself, and so on. There is a Russian proverb that goes, «Like priest, like people» («Judge the flock by its priest»). And vice versa.
For instance, why Russian people are quiet when they find out about corruption in the higher echelons of the Putin regime? Just because most of them know that had they been up on the top, they would have been doing the same exact things.
And this is the reason why no changes for the better can be expected in Russia within the next few decades. Russians will keep tolerating and putting up with it. And the situation will keep getting worse and the government’s tyranny will be increasing because it is a known fact that nothing corrupts the power as much as the long-suffering of the riffraff.
Abu-Aslan Berdushin, Editor of The Caucasus Herald. For Kavkaz-Center