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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Preparing His Own ‘Tonton Macoutes’ in Syria and Libya for Use Against Russians, El Murid Says


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Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 27 – Many have neglected one of the most important reasons for Vladimir Putin’s sallies in places like Libya, Anatoly Nemiyan, a specialist on the Muslim world who writes under the screen name El Murid, and that is this: the Kremlin leader is using this opportunity to train his own version of “tonton macoutes” for use against Russians at home.

            The kind of behavior by Russian forces that the Kremlin leader sanctions and even encourages there is the perfect training ground for those who he will eventually bring home to be used against Russians as he steps up the level of terror to defend his own position in power  (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F6F94C10C782).

            Like the saying that if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail, Nemiyan continues, the Putin regime thinks that “if there is a problem, then the simplest response is to ban it” or repress those who are behind it. That has governed the Kremlin’s approach to most things, including the coronavirus pandemic.

            Wishing to evade responsibility, Putin shifted responsibility for the heavy lifting to the governors; but then, not wishing for them to get credit or to get used to acting on their own, he has more recently worked to take back control – and to do so, he is becoming ever more repressive.

            As the situation has eased, Russians are beginning to ask some uncomfortable questions about what Putin was doing; and to prevent that from mushrooming into a political threat, the Kremlin leader is all too happy to use “soft” forms of totalitarianism like stay-at-home orders as long as they don’t harm the economy he depends on to make money and pay his supporters.

            In many ways, Nesmiyan says, the coronavirus has worked well for Putin; but if it had not occurred, he would have found another reason for shifting to “government terror” because his own position is less secure than it once was and he has no good means of solving the country’s fundamental economic problems.

            “To a large extent,” the blogger continues, “legitimacy already doesn’t worry the powers that be: the last two elections with their fantastic falsifications show that the required result will be achieved” regardless of what has to be done. Already Putin is using “arrests, detentions and even murders” to set “the norm” in his regime – all the kinds of things Papa Doc Duvalier used.

             To be sure, “tonton-macoutes have not yet appeared in the streets, but they are undergoing preparation abroad” in those places where the regime says they don’t exist. “But when required, they will return and repress people in Smolensk, Krasnoyarsk or Vladivostok” without the slightest hesitancy.

            From Putin’s perspective, attacking people in Idlib and attacking people in Arkhangelsk is just about the same. But to do the one, he has to make use of the other to train people who will do the repressing of the kind he apparently thinks he will need. Those “who aren’t there” in Syria and Libya are precisely the ones the Kremlin leader will rely on when he thinks he needs to.

 

Window on Eurasia — New Series