The Washington Post newspaper published an article by Alexei Navalny, who is serving a sentence in penal colony No. 6 of the Vladimir region. The text is titled "This is what post-Putin Russia should look like." In the column, the oppositionist writes about his vision of the reasons for Russian aggression against Ukraine and describes a possible scenario for changes in the country in the future.
“What does a desirable and realistic end to the criminal war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine look like? If you isolate the main thing that the leaders of the West said about this, then in the end it remains: Russia (Putin) should not win this war. Ukraine must remain an independent democratic state capable of defending itself,” Navalny writes.
“That's right, but it's a tactic. And the strategy should be aimed at ensuring that Russia and its government naturally, without coercion, do not want to start wars and do not find attractiveness in them. It is possible, without a doubt. Now the impulse of aggression comes from a minority in society,” adds the oppositionist.
Navalny's column is devoted to the fact that a beautiful Russia of the future is possible only in the form of a parliamentary republic.
Navalny's main point is that even the defeat of the Kremlin in the war against Ukraine will not be able to end other conflicts. They are rooted in imperial thinking, which is characteristic of most representatives of the Russian elites.
“Russia must stop being a source of aggression and instability. This is possible, and this is what should be considered as a strategic victory in this war, ”says Navalny.
As the oppositionist emphasizes, it is necessary to realize “several important things that are happening with Russia”:
1. Jealousy for Ukraine and its possible successes is an innate feature of post-Soviet power in Russia and an "obsessive obsession" of President Putin and the main part of his entourage.
2. Viewing war not as a catastrophe, but as an amazing remedy that solves all problems is not just the philosophy of Putin's elite, but a practice proven by life and evolution. Starting with the Second Chechen War, which made the little-known Vladimir Putin the most popular politician in the country, through the war in Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, the war in the Donbass and in Syria, the Russian elite learned in 22 years that they never failed: war is not so expensive, it solves any internal political problems, it raises the rating to the skies, it does not particularly harm the economy, and most importantly, the winners are not judged.
3. Therefore, the hope that with the change of Putin to another representative of his elite, this view of the war will change, at least, is naive. They just know from experience that it works and works best.
4. Obsession with Ukraine and bloodthirstiness in relation to it is not at all so widespread outside the power elites, no matter what the pro-government sociologists may lie about.
The strategic victory, according to Navalny, is to let the Russian people make the right choice.
“The image of the future for Russia is not “strong power” and “firm hand”, but consent, agreement and consideration of the interests of the whole society. Russia needs a parliamentary republic, and only it will stop the endless cycle of self-reviving imperial authoritarianism,” writes the oppositionist.
In his opinion, only a radical reduction in the amount of power concentrated in the hands of one person, the formation of a government by a parliamentary majority, an independent judiciary, and a significant increase in the powers of local authorities can change the future of Russia.
As for the possible total control of the parliament by Putin's party, then, according to Navalny, after the real opposition is allowed to participate in the elections, this will be impossible.
“Big faction, yes. Coalition majority - maybe. Total control - definitely not. There are too many people in Russia who are interested in a normal life now, and not a phantom of territorial conquest. And there are more such people every year. They just don't have anyone to vote for now."
The oppositionist emphasizes that the West should by no means repeat the mistake of the cynical approach of the 90s, when the post-Soviet elite was actually told: “You do what you want there, just watch your nuclear weapons and supply us with oil and gas.” The West can choose the format of relations with Russia, lift or not lift sanctions, and determine the criteria for this decision. But the Russian people and the Russian elite need a clear signal and explanation as to why such a choice is better.
“It is also extremely important that parliamentary democracy is a very rational and desirable choice for many political groups operating around Putin. It gives them the opportunity to maintain influence and fight for power, while ensuring that they will not be destroyed by a more aggressive group,” Navalny concludes.