Putin disregards own laws and doesn’t care about the health of Russians29.06.2020
I already wrote about the 9 May parade in Russia being rescheduled for 24 June. I based my assumptions on the generally accepted notions how sensible people, especially leaders of nations, should act in the battle against Covid-19. Back then, I was already surprised by Putin’s carelessness of not cancelling the parade. When additional aspects of this came to light, my confusion only grew but it became much clearer about what principles are guiding Putin’s rule.
Covid-19 has brought about changes to our everyday lives, and these include a number of restrictions to decrease the spread of the disease. Whether you like the restrictions or not is a different story, but currently there is not a measure more effective than these restrictions.
On 5 March, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin signed a decree on “Implementing increased readiness” that contained bans on holding any sort of mass events. There’s nothing wrong with that.
On 12 May, Putin announced that no mass event should take place until the sanitary restrictions are lifted. This is completely normal and was the case all over the world (maybe with the exception of Belarus and North Korea).
However, on 29 May Putin signed a decree on holding the parade on 24 June. As we know, neither Moscow nor Russia as a whole has lifted their sanitary restrictions, and according to official data Russia ranks third globally in the number of Covid-19 cases with more than 8,000 new cases being reported each day.
During an interview with Rossiya 24, the mayor of Moscow announced:
“I would not advise anyone to go out during the celebrations, because mass events are currently banned. Indeed, official proceedings will take place on 12 June and on the day of the parade, but you can view these on the television. We don’t want any mass gatherings or crowds of observers.”
It is interesting that official mass events are taking place at a time when mass events are banned.
You will agree that this is quite a peculiar situation – the head of the state announces that no public events are allowed, but then passes a decree on organizing the parade. Maybe Putin thinks that 14,000 military personnel do not constitute a mass event. Some people can do whatever they want – while the regular residents of Moscow couldn’t freely leave their homes, Putin decided to order 14,000 Russians to gather in one place. So, this means that the participants of the parade are required to attend, but the residents of Moscow are banned from attending it. Does this mean that those who attended the parade would be fined? What about the participants, then? Does the ban on mass gatherings does not concern them?
Legally, it seems that the participants can be fined too, because the president does not have the right to revoke decrees passed by the mayor of Moscow. It is one thing to put the citizens of your country at risk (if we look back at history, it’s something that leaders of the USSR liked to do – and now Putin as well), but it’s another thing to invite foreign leaders and delegations to attend an event that is essentially prohibited and poses a great risk of infection, because there will be a lot of people, even by Moscow standards.
It almost seems that Putin deliberately invited foreign leaders and delegations he dislikes, because he knows that they could become infected or even worse. And the fact that a huge number of Russian citizens are also being put at risk does not concern Putin in the slightest.
Let’s go back to being serious. Parades, fireworks, etc. are usually organized so that citizens can attend them, get a sense of belonging to their country, feel proud or simply so that there would be something to celebrate.
Now we’re in a situation where the parade is held and the fireworks are fired, but no one is allowed to attend any of it. What an event! It’s similar to sending out invitations to a party but adding that no one is allowed to come. You can switch on your TV and see the abundance of food on the tables and how luxuriously the room has been decorated, but that’s all you get.
It is evident that Russians are in no need of such an event. But who is, then? How else will Putin be able to show off? It’s sad that this showing off has to be against the law and threaten the lives and health of Russian citizens.
I have my own opinion regarding parades, but one thing is certain – when I look at the pictures or video footage of the parade, I will only hope that the ambitions of one “macho” did not force too many people to become infected. This is the rare case when citizens of other countries care more for the future of a nation than the leaders of the said nation.
To answer the initial question about what principles are guiding Putin’s rule, the answer is clear – the principles of ignoring the laws of the state and the interests of its citizens.