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Мichael Delyagin: Russians Are ready to Welcome the Most Cynical Crimes against Power Hostile to Them
Аnna Ivanova 13.07.2009
- Michael Gennadjevich, recently you said that "the state brought people to such a condition when the crime against the power is perceived as necessary social self-defense". I hope that it's not extremism - we in Sevastopol, to tell you the truth, understand that such extremism badly but we read that one could be imprisoned for it. Are you not afraid?
- Do you think I should be afraid? We will admit, according to Perm sociologists, inhabitants of Perm in general support their fellow countryman collector Shurman caught after impudent theft of a quarter of billion roubles. After all that is what sociology says - science, not Delyagin. So, 58% of interrogated inhabitants of Perm admitted that they would not reveal the criminal to law enforcement bodies under any circumstances and 4% of them in general expressed readiness to help him, 14% would make it for compensation and only 28% would inform, if they knew something about him without any additional conditions - so to say, performing civic duty. Thus almost half of inhabitants of Perm (41,2%) feel sorry for Shurman being caught, more than the third (34,2%) sympathize him and only less than the third (29,3%) feel natural at hearing about such crime feeling of indignation. So, I make from this quite logical conclusion. Can you offer something different?
- Yes, I am afraid that the same conclusion comes to my mind. Likely, it is some infectious extremism. Why do we have such prevailing positive relation to this Shurman?
- That is it... I wish to pay special attention on circumstances of the given crime aggravating for public consciousness. Shurman plundered not speculative office known to nobody - he plundered "Sberbank" in which the basic part of the population and the majority of pensioners keeps their money. Thus, he plundered not rich men - he plundered poor and unprotected. He is not at all Robin Hood attacking collectors from outside and bearing all risks connected with it. The crime was made by the collector, that is the robbery was rather safe, at that it appeared to be burdened by treachery and perfidy. At last, he stole huge sum, he didn't take just its part "for good life", that is his theft is not explainable by personal heavy financial position and represents something like "excess of necessary social self-defense". Nevertheless townsmen who could have suffered directly from that crime for it could happen so that Sberbank had no money enough for fulfillment of payments supported the criminal!
- What is the reason of such, frankly speaking, deviant public consciousness?
- The reason is simple: Russians despite of all sociological ratings better and more brightly understand not simply allogeneity but direct animosity of present power for them and this animosity - barefaced and frank - inevitably give rise to solidarity directed against every displays of not only kleptocratic arbitrariness but also against the state and its representatives as those. They are perceived as enemies in relation to whom (and also representatives of the order established by it) every actions are, as a matter of fact, possible and justified.
- It already looks like the final diagnosis. What did you lead to it?
- Already in the beginning of 2004 I carried out relatively small (and, certainly, not representative) interrogation of several tens relatively successful inhabitants from several large Russian cities which I used to visit what they think justice is. I was shocked by full disbelief in possibility of any positive justice. People did not trust either in modernization, or in becoming rich working fair, or in notorious "rising from knees". Roughly speaking, the fullest reflecting their mood illustration of concept "justice" already then, more than five years ago, was "a number of lanterns along highway and official hanging on each". It is a terrible situation - but for the past years titanic efforts of a ruling kleptocracy made it even more aggravated.
- Is it also proved by sociology?
- Tragic deaths of officials in road accident and other accidents did not cause, as long as it's possible to judge, any mass sympathy. Yes, a number of officials who died, possibly, committed crimes being engaged in poaching - but it's absolutely clear that the death is excessive punishment for such crimes. Nevertheless I never met the slightest pity to victims - among absolutely normal, not politized people.
Crimes against employees of traffic police also, as far as it's possible to understand, cause mass sympathy to the ones committing them but not to their victims.
- It's natural...
- Yes, after all Russians are almost completely deprived of possibility to protect themselves from arbitrariness of impudent and aggressive kleptocracy. It happens so that persevering advices to protect interests in courts became one of the significant reasons of party "Yabloko" to leave political arena. Simply because they were perceived by the increasing number of Russians as frank and boorish mockery. Political institutes of protection are also completely eradicated, it's even possible to be subjected to repression for some word being dropped in the Internet. Social and economic crisis inevitably destroys well-being of the increasing number of Russians definitively discrediting more and more crazy official propagation...
- Frankly speaking, conditions which you describe remind hybrid of early Dostoevsky with a thriller on a theme of undesirable future...
- In these conditions Russians are ready to welcome the most cynical crimes against the power hostile to them and its representatives - for the same reasons medieval English poor peasants welcomed Robin Hood even when he did not share the stolen with them.
- So, how was you brought to such a life, I mean to Sherwood forest?
- Clever people for many years warned ruling bureaucracy that deprivation of citizens of legal possibilities to express their opinion and to defend their interests would even more reduce efficiency of state policy and would make social protest severe. Having given it violent character and having transformed it from cooperation with power into revolt or revolution against it. Country leaders brought things to such an extend that crimes against the state and its structures, apparently, are perceived by considerable part of Russians as "necessary social self-defense".
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