The Kremlin's chief ideologist is worried about threats to Russia's middle class.
In a speech on Friday
, Vladislav Surkov, the first deputy Kremlin chief of staff said those threats are coming primarily from -- you guessed it -- the West:"If the 1980s were the times of the intellectuals and the 1990s were the times of the oligarchs then the 00s can be seen as the epoch of the middle classes. The main task of the state during the slump must become the preservation of the middle class, the defense of the middle class from the waves of poverty and confusion that are coming from the West."
As Robert Amsterdam
recently noted on his blog, Surkov often sets the tone for the Kremlin propaganda machine.
The ruling elite in Moscow is visibly nervous about falling oil prices
and a deepening financial crisis. The meme of Russia's nascent bourgeois having their middle class dreams dashed by the West's financial malfeasance is convenient for a couple of reasons. It lets the Russian elite off the hook for their own mismanagement and for failing to diversify an economy dangerously dependent on high energy prices. And it adds a new melody to the regime's ever-present xenophobic mood music at time when the Kremlin appears to be preparing the ground for Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency.
So we can probably expect to see more of this in the weeks and months ahead.
-- Brian Whitmore