The main news of the press conference of Vladimir Putin was his statement that he is going to the elections self-nominated. This seemingly technical detail has in fact a very large symbolic value - including against the backdrop of a clear crisis in the so-called non-systemic opposition.
The president's meeting with the press was considered in advance as a kind of pre-election event. Given that Vladimir Putin literally the other day officially announced plans to run for presidency, it was clear that many questions would concern precisely the election of 18 March. Nevertheless, the main political intrigue was revealed almost at the very beginning, in response to one of the first questions: from whom will go to the elections, from parties or independently.
Putin said that he is going to the elections not from any party, but as a self-nominated person. That is, it will collect signatures in its support.
"But I, of course, very much count on the support of those political forces, no matter how organized they are in the country - parties, public organizations that share my view on the development of the country and trust. Of course, I'm counting on it. And in general I count on broad support of citizens. "
It is clear who Putin was referring to first of all when he spoke about parties and organizations - United Russia, whose leader he was in the zero years, and the All-Russian Popular Front, whose leader he is from 2011. Both these organizations are focused on Putin, but Putin himself has long outgrown them. With "United Russia" this happened towards the end of the zero, and with the ONF, which includes both the EP and some other parties - after the Crimea. Not because Putin is so great - but because the real base of his support is broader than parties and even public organizations.
It is indeed supported by many of the Communists, members of the Liberal Democratic Party, even liberals, there is nothing strange about this. Putin has never been a member of any of the Russian parties. After the collapse of the CPSU, in which he was a member, like all KGB officers, he did not want to play "party games". At zero he became the leader of United Russia, in order to unite and reform primarily the regional elite through it - but even then he was not a part of the party.
In 2011, Putin created and headed the All-Russian People's Front - an association in which there is no individual membership, but there is a collective participation of various parties and movements. This step emphasized the role of Putin as a national rather than a party leader. ONF plays an important role in monitoring the work of the authorities in the regions, in supporting regional activists and public figures - but it is already narrow to Putin.
Because in the coming years, during his next presidential term, he will indeed be increasingly perceived as a "babai", that is, grandfather, an old man, a senior. Not in the sense of old age - Putin is only 65, and he is in fine physical form - but in the sense of experience and authority. Putin serves the country and the people, and he can have no competitor, not because he is afraid of competition, but because Putin's experience and knowledge make him unique (in the usual sense of the term - rare, unlike anyone). This is how much of our people belong to it. And on what grounds can you demand from the people that he also treat someone else? And especially not in the power of Putin to create a "second self." The trust that he won in people can not be transferred to another.
And this is especially noticeable against the backdrop of the talk of competition and opposition that Putin asked at a press conference.
On the one hand, Putin was asked why almost 20 years ago there was no "normal, influential candidate from the opposition" and how much he is interested in participating in elections without a strong competitor. On the other, as Ksenia Sobchak did, they reproached that the authorities were afraid of fair competition in the face of Navalny. That is, they demanded from Putin to create a rival, and help to take part in elections to someone whom Putin considers a puppet in the hands of external forces. Both options Putin commented on.
Joking that "the simplest thing for me would be to say that it's not for me to educate my competitors for myself," Putin said:
"I must suddenly say: I think on the topic that we have a political environment, as well as an economic one, should be competitive. And, of course, I would very much like, I want and will strive for it - that we have a balanced political system, and it is impossible to imagine it without competition on the political field ... Why are we like noisy and active oppositionists (Putin clearly made a reservation - had in mind "there"), but they really do not constitute a real competition of the current authorities? You know, we have, to put it mildly, a great specificity in Russia has developed over the past decades. What is it connected with? "
Under specificity, Putin meant a specific attitude of people to power. How did Putin answer the same question? To begin with, he recalled what has been done in the country for 18 years:
"Of course, very young people do not remember, do not even know what happened in the 90 and early 2000-ies, and can not compare with what has become now.
We have a lot of problems today ... but nevertheless our GDP grew by 75 percent from 2000 ... We have real wages, it still fell - and we'll talk about it - as a result of the crisis phenomena of the last three years . But since the beginning of 2000-x, real wages have increased by 3,5 times ... The pension is real - in 3,6 times, the infant mortality has decreased by 2,6 times, the maternal mortality - four times ...
Russia was cut by a million citizens a year, we broke the demographic situation ... Life expectancy we had was 65,3 a year, now - almost 73. We lived in the civil war for a long period of time, almost six years, more - almost 10, when the boys, 18-19 years, unprepared, untrained for bullets had to send the country. Now - see what kind of army we have.
At us debts were reduced three times, and reserves of the country have grown in 30 time - in fact it speaks about something ».
This is not self-praise and not just a list of successes - it's a reminder of how people who remember 90 look at the situation. At the same time, Putin acknowledged that there are more than enough reasons for discontent in the country, but people do not believe those who can only criticize:
"People, of course, are very dissatisfied with many today - and they are right: it would be possible to achieve better results. But when they start comparing and looking, and what the opposition leaders, especially the non-systemists, suggest, there are big doubts. In this, it seems to me, the most important problem of those who would like to be a competitive opposition. It is necessary to offer a real, not ephemeral, not clamorous, but a real agenda, one in which people would believe. I hope that all the same we will have, and the earlier, the better. "
In other words, when people look at what the opposition is offering, they do not have a desire to vote for them. That is, of course, they vote for both the Communists and the radical oppositionists - but the votes of their supporters are not enough to come to power. Because "it is important not only to make noise in squares or in more backstage surroundings, talk about the anti-popular regime, it is important to offer something to do even better," Putin repeated.
Roughly speaking, the president said that people know and see how much has been done over the years of my leadership, they have many claims to me and to the authorities in general, but they do not believe the opposition. Is Putin guilty of this?
Of course, our liberal Westerners answer, including the one that became the mouthpiece of Navalny Sobchak - the authorities are afraid of competition and do not let the opposition develop. But the liberal anti-Putin parties could not even get three percent of the vote in the Duma elections - what kind of clamor is it? And on the other, the left flank - is not the Communist Party of the Russian Federation the opposition? No, this is the wrong opposition, the pocket, not real communists, they say the denunciators of the "bloody regime". Well, create normal, real, let them win elections or at least beat the Communist Party by the number of votes. Does Putin interfere with this too?
Yes, anti-Putinists (not to be confused with communists or patriots who do not support Putin) are to blame for everything Putin. So Sobchak asked the president why he is afraid of competition and does not allow Alexei Navalny to go to the polls. What was Putin to answer, except that the government was not afraid of anyone and is not afraid (he said it)? What for him Navalny is a project to destabilize the situation in the country, a ram that is trying to use not for Putin, but for the authorities, that is, for the country as such? He did not begin to speak so directly - but, in fact, he said exactly this:
"The power should not look like a bearded peasant who lazily cabbage out of his beard and looks at how the state turns into some muddy puddle from which oligarchs pick and fish for themselves a goldfish, as we had in 90 and how it is happening in Ukraine today.
Already put here the question about Ukraine. Do you want tens of such Saakashvili to run around the squares? Those who you called are Saakashvili in the Russian edition. And do you want such Saakashvili to destabilize the situation in the country? Do you want us to survive from one Maidan to another? That we had attempts at coups d'état?
We've all been through this already. Do you want to return all this? I am sure that the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens do not want this. And this will not allow it. "
In this case, Putin did not speak from himself, but really from the absolute majority of our citizens. Much more than even those who vote for him 18 March.