Ksenia Sobchak may have won more than her 1.6% of the vote in the March 18 elections seems to say. Although Mrs. Sobchak lost, in part as her campaign surely took some kind of hit because of her emotional breakdown under the furious slander of Vladimir Zhirinovsky during last week’s presidential “debate” program, her margin is significant and may be something of concern in Russia’s future. This, even though this time around Mrs. Sobchak carried the highest unfavorability rating, at 82% in this election season.
Vladimir Putin won the election in a remarkable landslide. And as written here, his re-election signifies that the Russian people by and large trust him. This is an analysis I also see evident as I live in Russia and talk to many Russian people about this. This is no propaganda or “manufactured” victory at all. It is a victory for a nation that still relies largely on pragmatic and critical examination of facts before making decisions.
However, although Mrs. Sobchak represents the “lunatic fringe” of Russian liberals, that fringe is established. It is largely believed to be based in St Petersburg, since that city’s proximity to Western Europe has often been rather inviting to those wanting to try out Western European fads and lifestyles in Russia. This, if true, is more a social initiative than anything else, as Moscow and other Russian cities all possess extraordinary development in terms of technology and what one might call the other “hardware” based aspects of life in the West. However, Russia overall remains culturally quite conservative and there is little expressed desire to be “like” any other country culturally.
The question of liberal coalescence concerns Sobchak, who maintains that her campaign to intended to shed light on what she believes is an unfair situation as regards President Putin and the people that are viewed to be in “opposition” to his government. From Tass.com:
“I believe that the positive news for me is that my result is the best a liberal-minded candidate has been able to achieve so far,” Sobchak noted. “It gives Dima [Gudkov] and me a broad platform for creating the Party of Change. People have expressed their views, more than a million of voters want to see changes, want to see young politicians. It is a good start for big changes,” Sobchak concluded.
The problem is simply this: What is it that liberals in Russia want to expose? While they may rightly point out continued examples of corruption in Russia, this is something that is not going to go away no matter who is President of the Russian Federation at this time. What one can hope for is what has been observed – steady progress against this great problem, but it is unreasonable to think that any measure can get rid of it entirely in one fell stroke. For many fairly honest Russian people it is no different than it is in the United States or anywhere else – sometimes the rules get bent because the rules are in the way of getting something done. Sometimes this is done to criminal ends, and sometimes it is not.
More likely the pressure that Mrs. Sobchak will consolidate – whether she hopes so or not – is support for a western-style secular humanism such as has gained hold in the West. The battle lines that are being drawn in the “First world” are being drawn mostly along these lines. One one side is the globalist, secular humanist, sexual “liberation” view, with its concurrently disastrous results of shattering the institutions of family and marriage, and even traditional socialization for an increasingly fragmented society which claims “freedom” but in fact is bound by an extremely oppressive blend of anti-traditional and anti-Christian views.
On the other side is the group that recognizes God, country and family as of extreme importance, and this group is mostly Orthodox Christian in Russia in religious orientation. This is incidentally true for many of the former Soviet Socialist Republics. Right now the people that support this are generally a large part of President Putin’s support, but after 2024 he can no longer be president, and Sobchak and the liberals are a young crowd and may increase in size over the next several years.
In the United States, once secular humanism got a real hold on people, facts and real-life problem solving no longer seemed to matter. Now the nation is gripped in baseless rhetoric, and both “sides” (liberal and conservative) are sometimes equally given to pure emotion thinly disguised as debate. It is proving very difficult to uproot the wild baseless emotionalism in the West, and its consequences are anything from annoying to terrifying, as Americans will surely say.
While this has not yet taken place in Russia to any great degree, the seeds are planted.
Hopefully, they will not take hold here any time soon.