Letter From the Editors
Traffic near Schloss Elmau must have been gridlocked this week, as G‑7 leaders flocked to the picturesque locale in the Bavarian Alps to synchronize their watches. Within a few days, most of them met again, this time in Madrid, for the NATO summit. This flurry of activity did not bode well for Moscow. Both the G‑7 and NATO summits were meant to show a united front in the West’s support for Ukraine, and to demonstrate that the measures taken against Putin’s regime are hardly window dressing.
The summits were also a chance for leaders with black marks on their records to show their loyalty to the cause. Take, for instance, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been accused of not taking a tough enough stance on Russia. “For more than a month, the German chancellor . . . has been suspected of belonging to the so-called party of compromise, which defends the idea of an agreement with Russia on terms favorable to the Kremlin,” writes Gennady Petrov. To disavow those suspicions, Scholz announced that Germany would supply Ukraine with 12 PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. “To date, this is the most powerful German weapon transferred to the Ukrainian Army,” Petrov goes on to say.
Another test of loyalty took place at the Caspian Summit, which was meant to show that attempts to isolate Russia have failed. Indeed, according to Viktoria Panfilova, “Moscow was able to resolve a question of fundamental importance to itself, which was preventing joint military exercises involving nonregional players from taking place in the sea.” So it would seem the leaders of the Caspian Five passed the loyalty test.
However, is loyalty enough for those in high places? After the arrest of RANEPA rector Vladimir Mau, it looks like all bets are off. Mau, who has headed the prestigious university since 2010, has always toed the line, say those who know him. He was one of the economic experts behind Strategy 2020, Russia’s ambitious economic white paper, and a regime loyalist. During the Bolotnaya Square protests, Mau agreed to report on students who attended rallies. At the start of the “special operation” in Ukraine, he was one of 260 rectors to sign a letter in support of the operation (even if the document initially bore the signature of the vice-rector).
At the same time, Mau used his political clout to keep many liberal arts projects flourishing at RANEPA: “International programs, English-language bachelor’s degree programs and a liberal arts education were possible” at the university thanks to Mau, says sociologist Viktor Vakhshtein. Likewise, he refused to dismiss many professors the regime found “undesirable.” Case in point – opposition politician Yulia Galyamina.
In the end, his loyalty to the regime was not enough to save Mau. After all, he had been an adviser to Russia’s late finance minister Yegor Gaidar. “He’s a liberal following in the footsteps of Gaidar and is at the very center of training for state employees. The whole system was designed to get rid of that sort of thing,” says one acquaintance of Mau.
Another official trying to prove his loyalty of late is Russia’s former prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. In an interview with Argumenty i fakty this week, the man who once stated that “freedom is better than lack of freedom” now models himself after such hawks as Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev. Take, for instance, this quote by the former PM: “This is certainly not the first time in our history that they have come after us with guns blazing. . . . We never yielded to pressure, even during the most difficult times. The Iron Curtain did not stop us. I am sure this time will be no different.” Certainly sounds like Patrushev. Perhaps Medvedev, who denounced “legal nihilism” in Russia back during his stint as president, now fears falling victim to that same nihilism? Loyalty doesn’t seem to mean much within the walls of the Kremlin anymore.