Staunton, July 25 – By projecting its own failings on others, the Putin regime confuses cause and effect and convinces both itself and some others that “the entire world is against it and therefore it must behave aggressively toward this world,” according to Vadim Shtepa, a leading Russian regionalist writer.
“The classic examples of such government paranoia in the 20th century,” he writes, “were the regimes of Hitler and Stalin.” But by the end of Soviet times, such paranoia had significantly weakened, and consequently while the Kremlin continued to use such tropes, “society reacted to it ever more skeptically and ironically” – and at the same time, showed more interest in “’the enemy’” (nr2.ru/column/Vadim_Shtepa/Psihoanaliz-politiki-Kremlya-102209.html
Many had thought this the time of such government paranoid projection had passed, Shtepa says. Indeed, in 1999, Vladimir Putin himself even declared that “constant pointing to outsiders as the source of our misfortunes is incorrect at its core. All our misfortunes are in ourselves” (youtube.com/watch?v=3sG9C1qG-jc).
But if Putin believed that 16 years ago, he clearly does not believe it now – or at the very least, he and his regime are not acting as if they do and instead regularly ascribe to others the faults that they display in themselves and regularly blame others for problems in Russia that Russia has itself caused.
For many, it is obvious that “the Russian-Ukrainian conflict began with the arrival of Russia’s ‘little green men’ in Crimea and the involvement of pro-Russian fighters in the eastern regions of Ukraine,” Shtepa says. “But for those living in the regie of projection, reality looks entirely different,” and they think that “the West in this way is fighting against Russia.”
In this inverted world, “there was no annexation of Crimea,” because “the logic of projection excludes recognition of one’s own negative acts – in them someone else is always guilty. Russia only ‘restored justice’ of the times of empire. And if someone doesn’t agree with that, he himself is an evil violator of lawful borders.”
Similarly, for Moscow, “the post-revolutionary Ukrainian regime” had to be labelled “from the very beginning with the term ‘junta,’ although there were hardly any military people involved, unlike in the higher Kremlin leadership. And the junta of course is ‘fascist’ even though authoritarian nationalism with a cult of an irreplaceable leader is more characteristic of Russia today.”
This has led to the promotion of all kinds of phobias, all reflecting the notion that “’everyone hates Russia.’ But in reality it is the Russian language social networks which are filled with aggressive hatred” to almost everyone else. And it is Russian television, not CNN or Fox News which is talking about transforming someone into “’radioactive ruble.’”
Such projection mechanisms sometimes work, Shtepa says, “but those who fall under [their] influence do not notice this.” He gives as an example Moscow’s insistence that Ukrainian forces shot down the Malaysian airliner and then its objections to any international tribunal to look into the matter.
If the Kremlin is so sure the Ukrainians did it, the Russian regionalist writer continues, what sense does it make for the Russian leadership to oppose such a tribunal?