Putin and the Politics of Anti-Americanism

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Not content to rig its own election, the government has also tried to rig its own popular support. To counter images of anti-Putin rallies, the government in recent months has staged its own pro-Putin demonstrations. This weekend, while the opposition rallied under the banner of free and fair elections, the government organized a competing demonstration around a less inspiring theme, “We Have Much to Lose.” Demonstrators warned of the dangers of a government without Putin while speakers, echoing the government’s anti-American themes, denounced the pro-democracy demonstrators as “lackeys of America” who want to undermine Russia from within. Aside from their striking contrast in tone – one hopeful, the other angry and conspiratorial – the two rallies were distinguished by the nature of the protesters. While the opposition rallies were voluntary, the pro-government rallies were compelled. State employees, including postal workers and school teachers, complained that they were threatened with fines and demotions if they refused to attend. Of those who attended the government rallies, many were paid to do so. Even then turnout failed to match the opposition rallies. As during the recent elections, the government had to compensate for the lack of genuine popular enthusiasm in the only way it knows how: by wildly inflating the official turnout.

Time will tell whether any of this will sway the Russian public. Anti-Americanism has become a standby of politics in the Putin era, offering as it does an opportunity to deflect the public’s concerns about Russia’s political stagnation and corruption onto a familiar foe. But with the ascendance of the Internet and the growing political engagement of the middle class, this message may not be as effective as it once was. More and more, Russians seem determined to hold the government to account not for what America does but for what their own leaders have failed to do.

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  • Maher

    Is USSR back? We do need another Ronald Reagan quick!

  • StephenD

    The USSR never left. If it is true then why have there not been even one former Soviet Official brought to justice? The atrocities of the Soviet Government are far and wide. Putin was right up there (former head of the KGB). NOT ONE has ever faced charges…not one. The invasion of Georgia should have assuaged any doubt. The Soviet Union can call itself whatever it wants. Just like our President calls himself a Christian, Capitalist, pro-American. He does exactly what any Islamist, Socialist, anti-American would do. In like manner, Russia calls themselves a Democracy but does exactly what it has always done as a totalitarian system. The USSR does indeed still live.

  • MethanP

    In point of fact, I think that the primary reason for the Soviet, I mean Russian and ChiCom, I mean Chinese positions appart from plain anti Americanism, it the plain fact that these despots fear any outside interfearance in internal issues. I suspect this is the major issue. Their qwn records on civil rights are not good.

  • Ghostwriter

    I seriously doubt that the anti-Americanism Putin is trying to spread is going to work. Things are pretty bad in Russia and Putin is making matters worse. The Russian people aren't stupid. Sooner or later,Putin is going to get thrown out of office one way or another.

  • UCSPanther

    Putin's Anti-Americanism is reminiscent of the same conditions that produced the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", also for the same reason.

    Antisemitism didn't save the Czars, and anti-americanism will not save Putin.

    To all anti-american malcontents: You are going to have to find a new hero.

  • Ageofreason

    Whenever a despot falls, the leaders of Russia and China shiver, and begin to turn the screws. Pewtin looks like something found under a log or created for a zombie movie: pasty face, hooded, dead reptilian eyes. He is a creature of nightmares, without soul, arisen from shadows, a pied piper who leads not rats to death, but men. From his lips fall lies disguised as righteous indignation and hurt. Pewtin is a common criminal and murderer, no better than a gangster. Leader? Looter.

  • Андрей

    Путин съест вас с потрохами