Repressive regimes, ultimately, tend to collapse when they can no longer persuade the people under their control that what is being done in their names is acceptable or popular.
Those regimes in existence Russia and Iran are currently in a situation where their policies — on widely varied fronts — are neither acceptable nor popular, and the ongoing protests in both countries reflect the widespread dissatisfaction of their respective peoples.
In Iran, more than 30 people have died in widespread unrest since the death more than a week ago of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s ‘morality police’ having been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code. Demonstrators, many of them women, have been burning hijabs and fighting back against the police.
They are also tearing down official posters and setting fire to billboards containing the image of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The state has responded by stamping down ruthlessly on the demonstrations, and police have been seen shooting into crowds of protestors.
The authorities have also enforced an internet lockdown and increased electronic surveillance of the population in an attempt to curb the violence, despite a US move to “modify” sanctions so tech companies can counter these actions.
In Russia yesterday, a gunman attacked a draft office in the city of Ust-Ilimsk, wounding a recruitment officer, in the latest attack on a military recruitment centre since president Vladimir Putin announced last week that he was enforcing the call-up of hundreds of thousands of people to bolster the country’s struggling army in Ukraine.
The attack came as large numbers of ethnic minorities are being swept up by the Russian military in the Kremlin’s conscription drive. Putin had promised only those with military experience would be summoned for duty, but many who do not fit the criteria are being called up. It has been reported that at least 54 recruitment centres and administrative buildings have been set alight.
And this is apart altogether from the estimated 2,000 protestors who have been arrested and the 261,000 men who,
up until last Saturday, have reportedly fled Russia to avoid conscription. Crimean Tartars, long stigmatised by Russia as disloyal and exiled from their native lands, claim they are being disproportionately targeted by the mobilisation.
In both Iran and Russia, any form of dissent is quashed brutally because of government fears that any dissent or protest, if allowed, would cause their existing society to crumble. History tells us that such regimes ultimately fail — because they have failed the people themselves.