Russia Is Entering a New Political Era*


(*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.)

While the vast majority of so-called unfriendly countries boycotted Vladimir Putin’s inauguration, other EU countries nevertheless decided to send their representatives to the ceremony. Washington has said it is ready to cooperate with the Russian president, but also expressed its grievances over the recent presidential election in Russia. Dmitry Drize, a political observer for Kommersant FM, doesn’t rule out that Moscow will tone down its rhetoric against Western countries.

The press reported that of the 27 EU member states, representatives from only six countries – France, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta – attended Vladimir Putin’s swearing-in ceremony. The U.K., Canada, Poland and the U.S. officially declined to send anyone to Putin’s inauguration, while the European Union’s ambassador to Russia also announced he would skip the event. Considering that the U.S. leads the “coalition of unfriendly Western countries,” it’s important to analyze Washington’s position on Putin’s inauguration. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy is not currently in Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed that she left Russia before the official ceremony, actions which could be read as if the U.S. had said it would have liked to attend the ceremony, but, unfortunately, it had some urgent work to do, and well, maybe a joint celebration was just not in the cards.

During a White House briefing, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan acknowledged that President Putin is the president of Russia and asserted that the U.S. will continue to deal with this reality. Nevertheless, Washington also stressed that the March 15-17 presidential election was neither free nor fair.

It is not surprising that the “coalition of unfriendly Western countries” has ignored Putin’s inauguration, while Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban congratulated the Russian president on his reelection in March. Berlin recalled its ambassador just a day before the swearing-in ceremony, apparently because of an alleged Russian cyber-attack on Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, which occurred a year ago. Welcome to today’s reality.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Channel One it wasn’t an easy decision for Moscow to invite guests from all the states of the anti-Russian coalition. “We are polite people in every sense of the word, we observe protocol, and I think that the fact that we have invited representatives from unfriendly countries is also a certain signal from our side,” the senior diplomat pointed out.

Yes, it is reasonable to say that this significant and solemn event was an opportunity for us to take steps toward each other and resume dialogue, as we all are responsible for the world’s future.

Theoretically speaking, we can extend a friendly gesture to former unfriendly partners, can’t we? Who knows, maybe they’ll change their minds?

In any case, we should refrain from further speculation and focus on Emmanuel Macron’s position. As we can see, the French president clearly shows independence. On the one hand, he’s prepared to send troops to Ukraine, while on the other, he is willing to dispatch a French ambassador to the Kremlin’s inauguration. At least, that’s what the press reported. Additionally, China’s PRC Chairman Xi Jinping kicked off his European tour in Paris where he met Macron, leader of the Fifth Republic. Of course, the French president is not Napoleon, but as people say, anything’s possible. Macron is a young man with his whole life ahead of him. However, his decisions are not as pivotal yet as they might be. He offers us only small hints and makes big statements. Nevertheless, it’s better than nothing.

Meanwhile, Russia is entering a new political era, as people say. What will it be like? We don’t really know. These are challenging and tough times. However, one thing that we can do right now is to stick to the old adage – hope for the best, and it will surely come.

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About Nane Sarkisian 7 Articles
Born in Armenia, and raised mostly in Russia, Nane Sarkisian earned a BA in Linguistics from Surgut State University and a Fulbright-sponsored MA in Linguistic Anthropology from Northern Illinois University, where she studied language-culture correlation. Her professional journey includes roles as a Senior Language Specialist, Freelance Translator, and English Teacher. Fluent in English, Russian and Armenian, Nane actively engages in academic discourse, volunteering programs and anti-discrimination projects. She is a firm believer in the transformative power of education, inclusivity, empathy, cross-cultural exchange and social cohesion. Please feel free to contact Nane by email at nanesosovnasarkisian@gmail.com

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