But Mr Putin has emptied the law of significance, by warping reality to mean whatever he chooses. He has argued that fascists threaten the safety of Russian-speakers in Ukraine; that the elite troops surrounding Ukrainian bases are not Russian, but irregulars who bought their uniforms in the shops; that the Budapest memorandum, which Russia signed in 1994 and guarantees Ukraine’s borders, is no longer valid because the government in Kiev has been overthrown. Such preposterous claims are not meant to be taken at face value. Instead they communicate a truth that ordinary Russians understand only too well: the law is there not to restrain power, but to serve it.
Mikhail Gorbachev, was heavily influenced by Soviet economists and other academics who warned that by the turn of the century in 2000, the Soviet economy would be smaller than South Korea’s if it did not introduce major economic reforms and participate in the global economy.
.. The oligarchs “would not dare to challenge him,” a prominent Russian economist told me. (He asked not to be named for fear of retribution.) “But they would say something like they would have to lay off workers and reduce tax payments.”
Whataboutistm: a rhetorical defense that alleges hypocrisy from the accuser. And it’s going to make it a lot harder to criticize Moscow on human rights.
Historically this kind of scapegoating is used by politicians to solidify their bases and draw attention away from their failing policies, and no doubt this is what’s happening in Russia. Counting on the natural backlash against the success of marriage equality around the world and recruiting support from conservative religious organizations, Mr. Putin has sallied forth into this battle, figuring that the only opposition he will face will come from the left, his favorite boogeyman.