A view from the northern capital: Who is interested in myth about “St Petersburg invasion”

Recently, political campaign for demonizing originates from St Petersburg working for federal structures is being intensified. In particular, this campaign could be observed in some Moscow newspapers and TV channels’ activity. The most outstanding realization of this campaign could be seen in mass media connected in some way with Boris Berezovski. And not only with him. While TV 6 channel controlled by the disgraced oligarch produces an everyday portion of such propaganda, TV Centre channel which is near to Moscow mayor Luzhkov works more accurately, however his commentators also support the atmosphere of distrust. A significant symptom is a series of anecdotes about originates from St Petersburg. There are several witty among them, though in general they create such a insolent, unprincipled character, a well-connected man, who anyway wants to get to federal power bodies and to satisfy his lust for power and to fill his pocket. In these anecdotes, a directing hand is obvious, connected with certain work of PR-agents. Of course, this could be taken easy, with humour, though something hinders from it. And I can you say what it is. There is a hidden political reason in it. If we had had the year 1997 today, the organizers of the new information campaign would have already won a victory. Their first target is to rouse a real envy of new people in the authorities. Psychological pressure made upon a reader is aimed at building a mythological scheme like in a terrifying story children tell to each other before going to bed: there was a black house in a black forest… The first aim of every misinformation campaign is to mislead everybody, the second - to demoralize opponents, and the third – to remove them from political stage. From time to time, outflows of information are organized about fight among Moscow originates from St Petersburg. At first, there was a version about internal conflict among St Petersburg liberals and St Petersburg FSB workers. Afterwards, it was added with a series of publications about opposition between finance minister Kudrin and minister of economical development Gref, and of both of them with the President’s economical adviser, Illarionov. Though, it is clear that in fact the campaign’s organizers are disturbed by Putin. Not many people noticed that spreading the “terrifying stories” coincided with fluctuation in oil prices. Though it is obvious that oil prices decreasing, reducing budget incomes have really changed situation in the country. The country needs a moderate, accurate policy directed to search for new internal, but not outward reserves of economical growth, creating new rules of economical play. While namely this does not correspond with this course’s opponents. That people seem to be right who state not all big fortunes in the up-to-date Russia earned thanks to work and skills. Sharing budgetary funds, avoiding taxes, speculation of securities with use of so-called “insider” information – that are up-to-date ways of making money io Russia. Not speaking about completely criminal ways. Putin’s task is to fracture this tendency without revolutionary shakes. Though too many people do not like his intentions. All the more, 80 percent of Russian cash finances are in a whirl in Moscow. Here, there are more opportunities, than in any other region of Russia, to use the above-mentioned ways of making money. There are some persons (Berezovski belongs to them) who would prefer to preserve the old situation in the country. There is no doubt they will find supporters also among politicians, who are not inhabited to a systematic work, but prefer to gather populism points. From this point of view, “democrats” are the most interesting. For dozens of years they were propagating European values. Now, when political rapprochement with the West is becoming real, they have become ultra-right, while crying the West cannot be trusted and at the same time appearing in the West with statements that Putin cannot be trusted. Their trouble is that the West prefers to have to do with Putin, but not with them. So, the “democrats” turned out to be needless. A practically forming union of Zyuganov and Berezovski is also interesting, though it is not very unexpected. In March of 1996, Berezovksi expressed idea about appointing Zyuganov prime-minister, probably hoping to have some advantage from it. Now Berezovski reproaches Putin with paying off external debt. Berezovski even proposed to spend these means for pensioners. At the same time, Zyuganov expressed this thought. Is it strange? Nothing of the kind. Both turned out to be outside of political process and both make efforts to “shake” the situation, while the Putin’s team obviously hinders from it. All these actions and campaigns have the only aim – to make Putin justify himself. That would cause numerous plots to discuss in Moscow, while afterwards it will not be very important whether it was true or not. Though, to be objective, any policy, even which is good for people’s majority, needs to be explained and well advertised. For these aims a civilized propaganda should exist, which is carried out by political parties supporting the power. However, in this sense Putin’s supporters do not make progress yet. Recently, a united party of Unity and Fatherland was created. Both have the same slogan: they support the President. At the time being, the new party recruits functionaries and businessmen, some of them with bed reputation, who hardly could pronounce something distinct. One of these days, ex-premier and today’s Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin in jest expressed the idea about “Ukrainian lobby” in the Russian government: Khristenko, Matvienko, Shvydkoi – all the names are Ukrainian. Though this thought was never expressed seriously. It hardly could be an effective campaign. However, if the President’s name had been Ukrainian, something like Putenko, and he had come, let us say, from the city of Chernigov, so maybe… How will the events develop further? The campaigns mentioned above are short as a rule. Though their organizers cannot be satisfied quickly. According to some political analysts (who are very careful), the “St Petersburg theme” will be used in the future, in particular in creating some anti-President structures in St Petersburg. There is money for it. People probably also will be found. All these efforts are directed to creating an illusion that Putin’s positions are weak even in his native city. It is not important, that it is a lie. Though if this project is successful, the effect could be significant. So, let St Petersburg responsible politicians do what they should do. At least, the possible threats should be neutralized beforehand.

Valeri Marinin PRAVDA.Ru St Petersburg

Translated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/12/18/34887.html

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