Is Russia on the Verge of Collapse?
Strong power does not tolerate a mafia. When Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922, he declared war on the Sicilian Mafia. In the Soviet Union, after the end of the war with Nazi Germany in 1945, there was an unprecedented crime wave resulting from the weakening of the central government. Gangs sprang up in the country, against which the Soviet authorities waged a merciless and ultimately successful war.
Some forty private military companies have now been established in the Russian Federation. One of the purposes of these companies is to provide mercenaries to fight for power in different countries. This business has always been popular and profitable. In the last year, the largest PMC in Russia, headed by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been actively involved in the war in Ukraine against the Ukrainian army. However, a successful war requires centralization, unified command, and a clear military hierarchy. This means that private military companies are not only useless, but possibly harmful during military operations. Then why is the number of private military companies in the Russian Federation increasing so much?
In the last years of the Soviet Union, when the central government weakened, the country's leadership announced "perestroika.” What is "perestroika"? Literally, the word means "building anew." Between 1985 and 1991, the policy of "perestroika" marked a change in the economic and political structure of the USSR initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev. Perestroika ultimately led to the collapse of the USSR as a united state. It began as a reform of the system of state socialism and ended with the collapse of this system. After the collapse of the USSR, the Russian Federation began privatization, that is, the process of transferring formerly state-owned enterprises into private ownership. As a result of privatization, a considerable part of Russia's nationally owned enterprises went into private ownership practically for next to nothing. So, a group of "oligarchs" appeared, owning property which was given to them for comparatively little money. This was criminal privatization. Nobel Prize laureate in literature Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in an interview:
"They robbed Russia [...]. With great speed our blessed subsoil, oil, base metals, coal, production was given away. Robbed Russia to the bone. What is this - democracy? Was there a referendum on the subject? Was anyone asked? Was it the people who exercised their power and their future? And out of the trash, out of nothing, they have grown some billionaires who have done nothing for their country."
Property in the Russian Federation is divided, and this redistribution is controlled by the authorities. But for how long? As long as this government is strong. What does the emergence of a large number of PMCs, which are not necessary for military operations in Ukraine, mean? Weakening of power due to military setbacks and preparation for redistribution of power and property. As already noted, organized crime in the Soviet Union emerged after the war with Nazi Germany. Its emergence meant a dramatic weakening of power. In today's Russia, the course of action is the opposite of that of the postwar USSR: the war in Ukraine is going on, it is in full swing, but the government has already shown its weakness, because they cannot defeat Ukraine. So society is preparing for the collapse of the central government, creating armed organized crime for redistribution of power and property. So, the creation of numerous PMCs is not a military necessity, but a consequence of military failures of the Russian Federation, which may lead to an armed confrontation of new mafia structures. This will not be a civil war, because there is no developed civil society in Russia, but a struggle of armed groups. Why can't such a war be called a civil war? The long history of the powerless subject in the Soviet state and then in the new Russian state has led to the loss of the concept of the citizen as a participant in the social process. In the Russian Federation, the individual citizen is very poorly protected, since the courts and law enforcement agencies are part of the executive branch, and so any confrontation between the citizen and officials and powerful individuals is hopelessly futile. The legal framework of society exists on paper, but it is not workable. The citizen of the Russian Federation is as helpless before the authorities as Bashmachkin, the hero of Nikolai Gogol's story "The Overcoat," is powerless before an "important person." Writer Vladimir Nabokov called "The Overcoat" "the best short story ever written in the Russian language."
The only way for a citizen to exist safely, having received social protection, is to render services to an oligarch or a group of "powerful people." A citizen can obtain protection not on a personal legal basis, but by joining the "right" group. As a result, he may have property, such as owning several houses, but his homeownership is secured not by law, but by an illegal and unwritten agreement to provide services to a powerful group. The formation of numerous private military companies testifies to the weakening of the authority of the president and the government of the Russian Federation and threatens the country with a destructive struggle of armed groups, a possible redistribution of power and property, and unchanging lawlessness.