This difference is fundamental and universal.
In the West, citizens are sure that they can and should protect their interests themselves, while in Russia it is believed that the interests of citizens must be protected by someone else – if not by their own state, then a foreign one.
And when foreigners prefer to worry about themselves, resentment arises, which now permeates literally the entire opposition-minded stratum. Alas, the line of The Internationale
that “no one will grant us deliverance” has been forgotten – apparently, they were never taken seriously. Yet that is exactly how things are: no one will grant deliverance, and no one has to. No one has to act either for justice, as we understand it, or for rational reasons – again, as we understand it.
The habit of relying on others to pull your chestnuts out of the fire underlies the rest of the practices that now prevent Russian oligarchs from shaking sanctions.Backroom dealings
Firstly, it is disunity and the desire to “resolve issues” quietly. The owners of Alfa Group clearly did not want the letter
signed by Russian opposition figures who vouched for them to be published. To be sure, the rest are fighting for sanctions to be lifted on their own and in their own way, with, no doubt, their own negotiations behind closed doors. Now, after the publication of the letter, everyone – not only Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan – has worse chances of shaking sanctions. What if the letter were not a petition for an exception for persons whose reputations, frankly speaking, are not spotless – and not only in Russia, where people are well aware
of Alfa’s tough business practices, but also in the West, where they have not forgotten the scandalous squeezing out of the British partner from TNK-BP? What if the letter had called for explicit criteria to be developed for sanctions to be lifted in principle, perhaps with the proposal of criteria arrived at through a transparent, broad discussion?
Such backroom dealings of Russian oligarchs, as they ask for help from Western lobbyists or Russian oppositionists, only serve to convince Western politicians that they have done everything right – you should keep your distance from those Russians, they are all linked through murky schemes, and they even suck in our people. It is in Russia where going to the right offices and asking “respected people” is the best way to get what you want. In the West, this, of course, happens too, but they do not like it. It is much more effective to create public pressure.To get something, you need to offer something
Second, as far as I understand, all sanctioned persons want something done for them: sanctions to be lifted, allowed expenses boosted so there is enough for a cleaner
. But it doesn’t work like that: in the West, it is honest deals, not the humblest requests “upwards,” that are welcomed. To get something, you need to offer something interesting to the other side.