Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (44) addressed the Russians on Sunday in his daily video address. He said that silence is tantamount to collusion. “Silence comes close to complexity.” According to Selensky, those who remain silent and “do not fight evil” “support war”.
Zelensky’s words must have touched sore spots in the Russian population. Skepticism is also growing in Russia about Moscow’s military actions in its southwestern neighbor.
Top Russian economist Andrei Yakovlev says there are no winners in Russia anymore, only losers. This could lead to tensions among the elite, which President Vladimir Putin has so far supported. Yakovlev is convinced that support for Putin is beginning to break down.
“Very Tough” Situation
The economist was for many years the director of the Institute for Industry and Market Studies at the famous Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow. Since January he has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Eastern European Studies at the Frei Universitt Berlin. In a long conversation with “Spiegel”, Yakovlev commented on the current economic situation in his country. The economic situation is “very difficult”.
Many businessmen are desperate. “One thing is always clear in our discussions with company representatives: These people may not have started the war. This is also a problem with Western perception: many people there think that Russia and the Putin regime are monolithic, stable, And it may continue to exist like this for the next ten years.” According to the leading economist, this is an “illusion”.
According to Yakovlev, most businessmen do not support the political course, but this has no effect on him either. The business world has no choice but to do what it has always done: survive somehow. Of course, the Russian economy benefits from this. But you have to understand that it has nothing to do with supporting Putin.”
“Not returning to normalcy”
The Russian economy is extremely adaptable. Russian companies are “used to always expect the worst.” However, delivery failures due to sanctions cannot be compensated by imports from Asia. Supply chain disruptions tend to be longer than many initially expected. “Companies are only now beginning to understand that there is no return to normalcy.”
Yakovlev concludes from his conversation that “most business people know very well who is responsible for their problems” – and Putin should soon be wary of his people.
Propaganda paints a picture of great support for the Kremlin ruler. “But I don’t think it’s more than 25 to 30 percent,” Yakovlev says. This group is as big as the group of opponents of war. If the economic situation “keeps deteriorating, these people will react”.
Critical thinking citizens banned
Most of the restrictions imposed affected the population – and critically thinking citizens in particular to a great extent. Those who belong to the urban middle class “have been buyers of Western goods, users of Visa and MasterCard till now. They have traveled to other countries, read independent media and shared more Western values overall.” The sanctions will impress those more critical of the current curriculum.
Yakovlev: «There are no more conquerors in Russia today, which will cause tension in the elite. Today, only a small group makes decisions around Putin. By doing so they harm the interests of a large section of the elite. This creates serious tension within this elite. These will increase depending on the duration of the war and the worsening of the economic situation.”
But under Putin’s leadership, “hoping for change is futile. The president has distanced himself from any possibility of withdrawal.” (Case)