The Ivan Golunov case: why did the Kremlin give in to society?

Whos is Russian journalist, Ivan Golunov?

The Ivan Golunov case: why did the Kremlin give in to society?

The case of Ivan Golunov: why the Kremlin gave in to society?

Vasily Gatov, Alexander Morozov and Kirill Rogov talk about the factors influencing the journalist &# 171; Medusa&# 187; got freedom

On June 16, Moscow hosted a permitted rally of solidarity with Meduza’s correspondent Ivan Golunov, and Golunov himself was granted state protection as a witness this weekend, and he testified to investigators about who and how he had detained him on false charges..

A week before that, Golunov was under house arrest after being detained, during which he was beaten, and indefinite single pickets were held near the Moscow headquarters of the Russian police.

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The Ivan Golunov case: why did the Kremlin give in to society?

In a short time, the situation has turned like a coin, and now employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia are talking about the fact that they are being poisoned by the press, and pro-Kremlin journalists are talking about the need to release those persecuted by the authorities even louder than critics of the Kremlin..

Why did Vladimir Putin (and judging by the statements of the Kremlin itself, he received detailed reports on these events from several people at once) decided to punish the police and release the journalist? Well-known Russian political scientists and media experts speak about this in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service..

The Ivan Golunov case: why did the Kremlin give in to society?

Vasily Gatov: the Kremlin decided to retreat and intercept the agenda

Vasily Gatov, media analyst and expert at the Annenberg School of the University of Southern California, believes that there are two reasons for this behavior of the Kremlin: “The first reason is internal conflicts and difficulties in the Kremlin (some of them come out, some do not) that exist between different groups, from named after Putin now ruling Russia. The second reason is that the order for Golunov came from a level that can be ignored and, accordingly, retreated – despite the fact that orders coming from the very top are not ignored, and there is no retreat. The system is ready to retreat when it comes to those who have decided to use power tools beyond their rank. “.

Vasily Gatov argues that the cases when security officials were imprisoned happened before: “Regularly in the last few five or six years there have been situations when some middle-level security official started attacking business, and then he had to retreat because it was out of order. His goal had sufficient resources to fight back, and there are such examples in the banking sector, and in retail, and even in real estate, where usually the security forces, if they are aiming at something, they take it away. “.

The expert names the official who, in his opinion, played a key role in defining the Kremlin’s position on the Golunov case: “We know from direct and indirect evidence that Anton Vaino (head of the presidential administration of Russia – DG) was in charge of the situation. Although he is a civilian man, “without shoulder straps,” it is clear that from his position he can resolve such issues. The siloviks here are simply, as they say, “bent over their position” – the Minister of Internal Affairs Kolokoltsev could not fail to obey Vaino on these issues “.

“It took the Kremlin some time to figure out how to best behave, this decision was not instantaneous, but the direction of this decision was clear from the moment it became public. Vaino has recently had critical situations more serious than the arrest of Golunov: the same “rubbish cases”, protests against the construction of a church in Yekaterinburg. A simple tactical calculation – to retreat and intercept the summons – was implemented “- notes Vasily Gatov.

Alexander Morozov: it is interesting to understand who is the investor of Meduza

Alexander Morozov, co-director of the Boris Nemtsov Center at Charles University in Prague, noticed Vladimir Putin’s increased attention to the domestic Russian agenda: “It is believed that after a long period of fascination with foreign policy in the last month, Vladimir Putin returned to domestic affairs and became available to various voices. which draw his attention to something inside the country. This is one explanation, and the second explanation, it seems to me, lies in the plane of who has what – and how strong – patrons in Putin’s inner circle. “.

Alexander Morozov says that “the most interesting question is who is the investor of Meduza, since, in my opinion, the issue was not settled by a group of editors-in-chief and not by some efforts of civil society.”.

“Of course, everyone was great in this situation – both the Muscovites who came to stand in the pickets and, of course, the editors-in-chief of the publications, who spoke in solidarity, publishing three front pages of different newspapers with the same protest poster. But, apparently, this is not the decisive factor here, since in other similar situations in the past, Putin easily ignored such situations and declared that “the court will sort it out, we are supporters of the rule of law,” and so on, ”the political scientist suggests..

Alexander Morozov is sure that no threat of an international scandal in this case influenced Putin: “The entire previous political history of the last five years after the annexation of Crimea shows that Vladimir Putin absolutely ignores the consequences of a foreign policy scandal. In no case did Putin move backward. Take the situation with the downed Boeing in 2014 or the poisoning in Salisbury – his answers were always full of sarcasm. “.

“From the entire history of Putinism, we know that in every case, when arbitrariness or violence stopped, there was a person from Putin’s inner circle, one of literally ten people whom Putin not only trusts, but who are the main“ shareholders ”of the political regime, and who, perhaps without even presenting any reasoning, was simply asking for something to be suspended. And in those cases when people did not have such support, they, like the Minister of Economy Ulyukaev, sat on bunks “- concludes Alexander Morozov.

Kirill Rogov: Kremlin wants to build “smart authoritarianism” according to the Chinese model

Kirill Rogov, a member of the board of the Liberal Mission Foundation, a political scientist, believes that the Kremlin has been deliberately demonstrating moderation lately: “For some time now, we have seen a number of such steps from the Kremlin that should demonstrate the moderation of the regime. This is Yekaterinburg, and the trial of Michael Calvey, which unfolded in parallel, and the story with Golunov. The nature of this phenomenon is still unknown and incomprehensible, and to what extent it is a tactical technique or a strategic course, but it is. “.

One of the reasons for this, according to Kirill Rogov, may be the latest results of sociological polls: “Perhaps this is due to the fact that sociology records a rather high level of protest moods among the population, but this protest looks not focused: special reason for protest, although there is some diffuse irritation. Perhaps this line of moderation is partly related to this “.

The Kremlin intervened in the case of Ivan Golunov, the expert believes, because it really became very loud: “What happened to Golunov is not the political agenda of the Kremlin – this is some kind of incident of the system, which, in fact, would not interest and would not anger the Kremlin , if the costs of the consequences of this scandal did not begin to ricochet along the upper political level “.

According to Kirill Rogov, Putin simply had to delve into what was happening himself, as the damage could have turned out to be uncontrollable: “What happened to Golunov turned out to be a scandal, because it overshadowed such an important day for Putin at the St. Petersburg Forum, which he spent with the leader of China. This programmatic event for him was blurred by a story with a journalist from Meduza. In this situation, he had no reason to support these people – on the contrary, they were guilty of him in his eyes. And it was obvious that it was necessary to release Golunov under house arrest as soon as possible, because if he ends up in a pre-trial detention center, and something happens to him there, then it will be a universal scandal. And there was such a risk, because, apparently, Putin is not completely sure that he controls this police mafia, and that it is possible to ensure Golunov’s safety in prison ”.

The political scientist sees in the latest actions of the Russian authorities an attempt to create “smart authoritarianism”: “This is an authoritarianism that is both repressive and“ responsive ”, that is, you completely enter into a dialogue with citizens, yield to them where it is not important for you, but you apply harsh repression in those moments that are fundamental to you from the point of view of what is meant by the political stability of the regime. It is as if such ‘smart authoritarianism’ is supposed to work in China, and Putin clearly wants to copy it. “.

“Here, too, we saw this technique, when Golunov was released, but, for example, the position that rallies can only take place with the permission of the authorities is consistently defended by the authorities,“ in this we conceded to you, but here we will be very tough on our own ”- Kirill Rogov says.

  • Danila Galperovich

    Reporter for the Russian Service «Voices of America» in Moscow. Collaborates with «Voice of America» since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and presenter of programs in the Russian service of the BBC and «Radio Liberty». Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.

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