I would like to make a few points about the article “Russia is not Putin but ‘is embodied by its 146 million citizens’” by Lyubov Sobol (Irish Examiner, December 26, 2019).
First of all, let me take issue with the central theme of the article, that president Putin somehow does not represent 146m of Russians.
Ms Sobol is certainly well in her right to think that way, but she obviously can’t speak for the entire country. It’s worth remembering reminding that President Putin has been elected in a free and fair election by a vast majority of votes (76.69%).
With that he has a strong mandate to lead a challenging drive to improve social and economic conditions in Russia. To be sure, nothing is perfect in this world, and the Russian government has its share of problems, but certainly not to the extent of a grotesque picture, painted by Ms Sobol, which is detached from reality.
Russia is not waging war on anybody, whether “real” or “hybrid”.
There is freedom to demonstrate and protest in Russia under the clear procedures established by law. As far as elections to the Moscow city Duma are concerned, those candidates who followed the law took part in the process, and some got elected (including from opposition parties). Those who cheated did not.
Ms Sobol and her colleagues did not hide the fact that they really didn’t care about winning elections — they only tried to create a pretext for a protest with the aim to accuse authorities of “repressive actions”. This is already a familiar tactic.
It is quite clear that Ms L.Sobol and her mentor Alexei Navalny A.Navalny have their own agenda — they have converted legitimate opposition activities into the well-funded business enterprise designed to disseminate false and distorted information about Russia, not only at home, but, judging from the article, abroad as well. I’m pretty confident that Russia most certainly is not embodied by this kind of a project.