Democracy. Russia. CIS.

The Politics of Conspiracy: The Case of the North Caucasus.

Posted by democratist on February 28, 2011

February 28th 2011,

A mere twelve hours after Democratist published an article suggesting Medvedev’s speech in Vladikavkaz last Tuesday was a new iteration of the nomenklatura’s historical use of conspiracy theory for domestic control, Pavel Baev from Jamestown has penned his own superb article entitled “The Kremlin Spins Conspiracy Theories Explaining Revolutions Away.”

Among other things, Baev notes that last week’s speech marked the public unveiling of a new theory, of a supposed relationship between Russia’s worsening problems in the north Caucasus, and the recent wave of unrest in north Africa;

“Medvedev tries to reinvigorate the siloviki by sacking mid-level police generals and even a deputy director of the FSB; he has also replaced the head of Karachaevo-Cherkessia for poor efforts in economic development, while tensions in this republic still remain manageable (, February 26). These cadre reshufflings make little difference in the administrative system based on converting power into profit, while Medvedev’s personal inspections of airports and train stations only demonstrate that no efficient defense against terrorism could be invented (Novaya Gazeta, February 26). It is the growing understanding of futility of the two-track strategy of buying stability and exterminating rebels that feeds the official readiness to subscribe to the preposterous “American-Turkish conspiracy” (Vedomosti, February 25).”

The idea of a Turkish-American conspiracy in the north Caucasus is indeed preposterous; the obvious reality is that the Kremlin has failed miserably over a period of more than a decade in its attempt to “pacify” the region.

 But, as we wrote yesterday, the emerging danger (as demonstrated by historical precedent) is that Putin and Medvedev themselves will soon come to genuinely believe in what is essentially a self-serving and exculpatory Macédoine of falsehood and quarter-truth: Medvedev’s speech raises the spectre of the FSB falling into the established pattern of pandering to the Kremlin’s fears of foreign plots, and of discovering “proof” of this involvement in the ongoing series of terrorist attacks that they have repeatedly demonstrated they are too inept to prevent.

Either way, this development does not bode well for Medvedev’s “modernization” strategy. As Baev also suggests, it is likely to strengthen the hand of those in the nomenklatura who distrust the West, and, combined with a rise in oil prices, may finally come to mark Russia’s return to the “petro-state” development model.

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