Might of Putin’s regime is just an illusion09.08.2021
The Russian language has a great word – pokazukha (показуха). There is no word-for-word translation for it – for instance, “boasting” means to be proud/satisfied about what you actually possess or have done, while “bluffing” means to lie about something you don’t have. Pokazukha takes both of these meanings and melds them together.
I already wrote that during Soviet times those serving in the army had to paint the grass green so that it would look great from distance. This is the essence of pokazukha – to make something seem beautiful from a distance, but when seen up close that something turns into something completely different.
Problems arise when pokazukha is done on a state level. As a rule, such countries don’t exist for too long. Everything artificial dies sooner or later, and the collapse of the USSR is one of the greatest examples of this. From outside the USSR seemed like a great and powerful country, but from the inside it was a completely rotten system. All that was required was a slight nudge – and everything collapsed.
Pokazukha is greatly respected in Putin’s Russia as well and it begins from the very top. From Putin with his “macho” photos that are being published yearly, to the facades of nearly collapsed apartment blocks that are refreshed each time Putin arrives to see them but let to rot afterwards.1 Sometimes things are even easier – the buildings are covered by banners.2 Looks good from afar, but don’t you dare come any closer.
Putin’s Russia in reality is an artificial country of illusions, where the only real thing is Putin, while everything else is taken from Gianni Rodari’s book “Gelsomino in the Country of Liars”.
Speaking of near and far illusions, constitutionally Russia is considered a federal, democratic and law-governed state with a republican form of government.3 “Democracy” is a wide term, but the two of its cornerstones are the rights of the citizens to elect their representatives and the freedom of speech.
Some might argue that Russian citizens do have the right to elect their representatives, to which I will say – yes, they have the right to elect, but who and how will be elected is an entirely different story. It is merely an illusion. I will not continue on this topic, as anyone who wishes can look up online how the diligent members of the election commission place the “correct” ballots in the ballot box.4 This means that Russia’s elected power is illegitimate. Putin holds elections the same way Aleksandr Lukashenko does – both are in power because they are experts at falsifying elections. As I already said – everything is an illusion.
What concerns the freedom of speech, it’s actually very simple – there is none. If you say something the regime doesn’t like you will end up in jail or the cemetery very quickly. All laws are made to serve a single individual and his clique, therefore there’s no reason to even begin talking about Russia being a law-governed state. This too is an illusion.
This means that Article 1 of the Constitution of Russia is obsolete, just as the Chapter 7 of the Constitution of the USSR “Basic rights and responsibilities of Soviet citizens”.5 In constitutional rights there is a term “fictitious constitution”, which means that the principles and rules stipulated in a constitution aren’t observed in reality, meaning it is nothing more than a list of illusions.
An example is the aforementioned Constitution of the USSR. Just like in Soviet times, Russian citizens have the freedom of speech, but it’s better for them to keep silent if they don’t want to end up in jail. In Soviet times, you could be put in jail because you told an anecdote about the government. What has changed? Nothing – legally there is one set of rules, while reality is governed by a different set of rules.
Let’s look at another illusion concerning the hottest global topic – Covid-19. Not so long ago, Putin (and Lukashenko) said that Covid-19 doesn’t exist and that it was invented by Western propaganda. What happened when Russia became the “best” at combating the disease and the “first” to announce the development of a vaccine and the beginning of vaccination? Everything started out promising – “Sputnik-V will save everyone!” But this was far from being the case – while other countries are easing their Covid-19 restrictions, Russia is forced to impose more and more restrictions.6 Russia, where the vaccine was developed and produced, had vaccinated only 12.82% of its population by June 2021, whereas Latvia which doesn’t have its own vaccine had vaccinated 32.79% of its population.7 You have to agree that the current reality in Russia doesn’t correspond with its initial statements. This means that it was just an illusion.
Let’s look at Russia’s statements about military technology and equipment. Putin likes to be very loud and proud when it comes to this topic, but in reality the promised equipment simply disappears or appears some five years later and is not what was initially promised. A good example is the development and production of Russia’s fifth generation fighter jet.
What am I trying to say with all this? It’s pretty simple – if Putin’s statements have constantly contradicted reality, we must assume that nothing Russia says is real.
Some of you might remember how Khrushchev told the entire world (and the world believed him) that the USSR is producing intercontinental missiles like sausages. There was some truth to this statement – the USSR had neither sausages, nor intercontinental missiles. In reality, the Soviet Union had a single functioning missile that would have been downed before it was able to reach the US. However, majority of people believed that the USSR is in possession of numerous intercontinental missiles – and the truth surfaced only years later.
Putin’s nostalgia for the USSR is extraordinary, and that’s why he keep living by the rules of that time. The USSR and Russia act like identical twins. I wouldn’t be surprised if Putin had already reserved a spot next to the man sleeping in the Red Square.
In all seriousness, Putin’s Russia is showing its two faces in all aspects of life. The first face is the one Putin wants to show to the rest of the world – a great and powerful one that is visible when we look at Russia from afar. But the other face is the reality – the one we see when we come closer. Just like painting grass – everything in Russia is nothing more than pokazukha.