Text of report by the website of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, often critical of the government on 31 January
[Editorial by Andrey Kolesnikov: "The Tunisian syndrome"]
On the list of causes of corruption, to which President Dmitriy Medvedev pointed all of last week, the only thing missing is the rotation of those in power. Corruption is unavoidable where those in power have impunity and are unchangeable, where a "close circle" has the ability to do everything that it wants under the cover of a chief, where business is run by the state and officialdom is privatized. And where there is corruption, the cost of state control and conducting business increases. As a result, the government becomes ineffective.
And the many-years absence of rotation of leaders is harmful for them themselves. Eyes are shut, the situation seems manageable, reactions become slow, and the switching off of feedback mechanisms distorts the leader's perception of his own country. Ten or twenty years of stagnant rule pass, and suddenly "stability" breaks down. Thus it happened in Tunisia and is happening in Egypt.
This situation is described by the words of the head of the Institute of Modern Development, Igor Yurgens, in a Bloomberg interview: "Everyone was fed up with seeing one and the same face." (Read I. Yurgens' interview in a recent edition of Novaya Gazeta.) This situation was also appropriately assessed by Medvedev when he answered a question about Tunisia at Davos: "The government must not rest on its laurels or sit in comfortable chairs; it must develop together with society. And it does not matter what country we are talking about .... When the government is not successful in social development and does not meet the expectations of people, everything ends very sadly, and disorganization and chaos arrive."
This is exactly what happened in Ukraine, in Georgia, and in Kyrgyzstan during the "orange" revolutions. In fact, the colour or the name of the flower or the country have no significance. An attempt at such a revolution took place, for example, in the summer of 2009 in Iran, when after Ahmadinejad's victory, the supporters of Hatami - representatives of the educated class - went out into the streets. Events developed similarly in December 2010 in Belarus. It is significant that the government in these countries has lagged radically behind the active part of the population - the civil society. Lagged behind and did not want to admit it, because for them it would mean giving up power. Which again only resulted in public disturbances.
Long before the events in Maydan, the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas called this phenomenon the "catch-up revolution" or "rollback revolution" - it allows the government to catch up with society and start fresh from an approximately equal position. True, no one guarantees that either society will fall behind the state (in case very radical reforms are carried out) or the state will again fall behind society as a result of the leaders becoming flush with power.
Thus, the insensitivity of those in power to what is taking place in society, their presence too long at the trough, and stability which especially in the post-industrial era is in fact another name for stagnation, are all reasons for what today is called the "Tunisian syndrome" and earlier was called the "orange" revolution. The "Tunisian syndrome" will not absolutely destroy our country, even if Vladimir Putin - our all-Russian ayatollah - sits in the post of premier or president for another period of years: no one knows where the boundaries of inertial development lie or when an unmanageable growth in protest actions will begin. (And they do not break out where they are expected or by those who are expected - the experience of Manezh Square teaches this). Thus, in Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has in fact been ruling the country since 1984, when he became the chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers, at the request of the workers claims eternal rule in his country. One thing is completely obvious: an explosion could occur, moreover, at any time, if the government continues to do nothing.
Credit: Novaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 31 Jan 11; p 10
Similar conditions and circumstances existed just before the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.