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Putin and Protest

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 pm, September 27th, 2022 - 16 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, International, Russia, us politics, vladimir putin - Tags:

Interesting to see how the Russian protest plays out over conscription. Odd things happen in gatherings with tyrants. Jan 6 was one. But Romania 1989 was one Putin will know well.

President Ceaucescu of Romania ran a ferocious government for many years. Crushed any sign of dissent. In November 1989 he was re-elected President for another 5 years as his supporters at Party Conference gave him multiple standing ovations.

On December 12 1989 the President was disturbed by a small uprising in Timisoara and so he was persuaded to address a public rally in Budapest.

One solitary man in the crowd, Nica Leon, sick of Ceausescu, started shouting in favour of the revolutionary stand in Timasoara.

The crowd around him, obedient as ever, thought that when he shouted “long live Timisoara!”  it  was some new political slogan. They started chanting it. It was only when he went “down with Ceaucescu” that they realized something wasn’t right. Terrified, they tried to force themselves away from him and dropped the banners they’d been carrying. In the crush the banner batons were snapped underfoot and women started screaming. The ensuing panic sounded like booing.

The unthinkable was happening.

Ceaucescu stood there on the balcony ludicrously frozen in uncertainty, his mouth opening and shutting. Even the camera shook.

Then the head of security walked swiftly across the balcony towards him and whispered “They’re getting in”. It was clearly audible on the open microphone and was broadcast over the whole country on live national radio.

That was the start.

Within a week Ceaucescu was dead.

16 comments on “Putin and Protest ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    Some excellent analysis from Vlad Vexler who I rate as one of the best and most insightful commentators on the philosophies that drive Putin, and why Russians have been so accepting of Putin's schemes.

    Basically, there has been an unwritten contract between Putin and the Russian people. The contract is that Putin would provide a safe, comfortable life for Russian people so long as they let him do his thing, and that him doing his thing wouldn't impact on their daily lives.

    However, mobilisation has now ripped that contract up. The only other times of national mobilisation has been during major wars where Russia was under existential threat. Though that mobilisation didn't work out too well for Tzar Nicholas II in WW1.

    The problem for Putin in this scenario is that, unlike world wars, Russia is not under direct threat. I think even the most deluded Putin fanatic will realise that the coming annexations of various areas of Ukraine are just a fig-leaf to frame the conflict as an attack on Russia directly to justify the mobilisation.

    Hopefully protests will reach critical mass in Russia. Though the insidious infiltration of secret police must make it very difficult for the population to take that step.

    • Scud 1.1

      It wasn't so much, that Tsar Nicholas Mobilisation went to poo, as the Russian Military were belting the crap out of the Austro Hungarian Army (equally incompetent as the Russian Army as well btw). But it was the defeat of the Russian Army at the Battle of Tañnenberg in 1914.

      Where the plucky Prussians who were out numbered by the Russians by 2:1 from memory. Launched a massive counter offensive that completely Destroyed the Russian Military which was the beginning of the end of Tsar Nicholas.

      As the Russian Military through its gross incompetence & negligence from Tail to Teeth fell apart spurred on by internal issues. Like the Military's mobilisation plan that eventually destroyed it's ability to feed/ sustain itself as the Russia economy grinded to halt & a growing insurgency in Finland, UrK & elsewhere.

      Notice the trend in events from WW1 through to now with Russia?

      • Sanctuary 1.1.1

        In WW1 a rifle from a private Russian government contractor was over three times the price a rifle cost the British or French government and they were often defective when delivered. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • Tony Veitch 1.2

      Hopefully protests will reach critical mass in Russia.

      I admit to a wry smile when I read this comment from a poster, by his own admission, on the right, or centre right, of the political spectrum. But, hey, just causes can make strange bedfellows of us all.

      I too hope the protests succeed in toppling Tzar Poots.

      • tsmithfield 1.2.1

        Yes. Party politics seem a bit petty sometimes…

      • Tiger Mountain 1.2.2

        Hopefully the Russian working class does get organised again in unity with other sectors. Not just those bricking it from being sent to an armed conflict. Don’t forget we have had times of forced conscription and compulsory military service in New Zealand too. But, but, that was different…well it wasn’t actually if you were one of the ‘chosen’.

        Interesting that Roger Douglas early in the Yeltsin era was recruited for a schedule of speeches on economics in early 1992 as part of a Privatisation Advisory Committee organisedby the World Bank, to advise nascent oligarchs on how to get their hands on working class property–just as he had done in this country.

        It is going to take protest, community organising and direct action of various forms from new gens locked out of home ownership, and the 50% with just 2% of the wealth, to eventually retire the Parliamentary neo liberal consensus in NZ too.

  2. Hanswurst 2

    […] he was persuaded to address a public rally in Budapest.

    Bucharest, surely?

  3. tsmithfield 3

    Looks like the population of war-age men in Russia will be experiencing a dramatic increase in broken limbs.

    Can't say I blame them. The prospect of being called up and sent to die must be truly terrifying. Not watching it play out with popcorn on the couch anymore.

  4. Jenny are we there yet 4

    Information technology is speeding up history.

    The Arab Spring has demonstrated; sporadic protests which once took months or even years and decades to coalesce into open revolt, or even rebellion can now develop virtually overnight.

    Fueled by social media, Putin's Partial mobilisation has been greeted with nation wide acts of civil disobedience.

    In dramatic scenes Russian civil society is breaking down, this process will snowball until it becomes unstoppable.

    Things can only get worse for Putin.

    What if they gave a war and nobody came?

    ……Huge queues have built at the borders with Finland, Georgia and Mongolia as tens of thousands try to escape being sent into the tyrant’s “meatgrinder”….

    …..In Luchegorsk, men who refused to open doors at night were handed the summonses when they arrived at work this morning.

    ….Meanwhile, heartbroken women have threatened to break their husbands’ bones so they were unfit for the call-up.

    A wife from Tyumen in Siberia said: “I will not let my husband go. I’ll break his both legs. His duty is to raise his children.”

    Soon after Putin's announcement aired, panic soon flooded social networks, which surged with advice on how to avoid the mobilisation or leave the country and avoid being sent to fight in the Ukraine war.

    Google searches for "how to break a hand" soared within moments.

    The authorities issued a special warning issued to potential recruits that they face legal sanctions if they self-harm by breaking arms or legs to avoid the call-up…..

    …..In a desperate bid to stop his army collapsing amid Ukraine's lightning counterattack, Putin signed a decree on the partial mobilisation on Wednesday.

    It is Russia's first such mobilisation since World War Two – signifying a major escalation of the war, now in its seventh month.


    In WWII people didn't have the internet. Now humanity has the internet people can reach across across continents and borders to confound their warring governments.

    We will know when the Putin regime is finished, when in a desperate attempt to turn back the clock the internet is turned off.

    • tsmithfield 4.1

      Yes, mobilisation is not going to help Putin at all. Firstly, it will be of negligible military value as the conscripts will be poorly trained and equipped. Secondly, it will cause increasing angst in Russia, especially as those conscripted start coming back in body-bags.

      And this obsession he has with winning an unwinnable war is crazy because he is sacrificing his nation for his own crazy goals. The demographic profile of Russia is already terrible and he is killing of the small number he has available to help replenish the population, plus losing a lot of his best who have chosen to desert Russia.

      • Sanctuary 4.1.1

        Due to the massive demographic hole post 1991 there are only 7,500,000 or so young men in Russia between 20-29. Given how easy it is in Russia to avoid military service if you have connections or are in higher education/reserved occupations in the big urban centres that means the load is, as always, going to be primarily borne by the lowest quality troops possible – old men, ethnic minorities and the rural poor. High infantry losses risk major unrest in ethnic republics, especially as most of the militarised police Russia relies on to maintain order in it's distant republics are now KIA, MIA, WIA or POW in the Ukraine.

        • Ad

          But Putin has a better shot at keeping the lid on Ukraine-war conscription protest than LBJ did over Vietnam conscription protest.

          Putin is operating from a much more stable political place.

          He won't come out of this unscathed but Putin still has a good chance of taking the Russian people through this.

  5. Karl Sinclair 5


    Chomsky’s position on Russia-Ukraine relations is surprisingly similar to International Relations (IR) scholar John Mearsheimer’s (and to a lesser extent, Henry Kissinger’s). According to Professor Mearsheimer, the U.S. is to blame for Russia invading the Ukraine. By pressuring Ukraine to join NATO, the U.S. intensified an already tense situation. It provoked Putin to defend Russia’s security interest in keeping Ukraine out of NATO. (For more, see “Mearsheimer on Ukraine.”)”

    Always good to add a bit of counter narrative (hot sauce) to the mainstream views expressed in this particular blog regarding Ukraine.

    Take the time to digest the views below, I’d love to hear your opinion on them:

    Noam Chomsky: https://medium.com/statecraft-and-global-affairs/chomsky-on-ukraine-america-is-manufacturing-monsters-f136e7b217a9

    Prof Jeffrey Sachs: https://youtu.be/wmOePNsNFw0

    Prof John Mearsheimer: https://youtu.be/qciVozNtCDM

    Col Douglas Macgregor: https://youtu.be/gaHa59_daGo

    Kissinger: https://youtu.be/WOZw0zGFvzI

    Alexander Mercouris: https://youtu.be/GYCNkjJ5m9k

  6. tsmithfield 6

    What do you mean "pressurising” Ukraine into joining. Ukraine was never going to be accepted in the short-term, did not have unanimous support, and had a lot of hoops to jump through before NATO acceptance was even possible. And, contrary to what you are saying about the US, according to the article linked to, Biden had cooled off considerably on the idea of Ukraine joining NATO.

    In short, if “joining NATO” could be construed as a threat, then it certainly wasn’t an imminent one that justified Russian invasion.

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