Fear Of Domestic Unrest
RussiaRussian domestic and external braggadocio is intended in part to hide the regime’s fears of domestic unrest. Russian officials believe and publicly profess that since 2003 the United States has been trying to foment democracy campaigns in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to undermine existing regimes there. Accordingly, they continue to promote the image of Russia as a besieged fortress surrounded by linked enemies, foreign governments and democratic reformers. Thus, President Dmitry Medvedev said, in March 2011:
While Moscow does not attribute the Arab revolutions to outside forces, it believes that those forces could exploit their example to incite an increasingly dissatisfied populace. In response to the color revolutions of 2003-2005, Moscow has terminated elections of governors, passed increasingly draconian laws suppressing freedom of the press, assembly, speech, and the dissemination of information, and has created thousands of Paramilitary units whose primary mission is to suppress any manifestation of public unrest and autonomous political action. Dissidents and journalists have been jailed, beaten, and sometimes killed. Vladimir Putin has even revived Leonid Brezhnev’s notorious practice of putting dissidents into psychiatric institutions. According to journalist Andrei Soldatov, Russia is also working to prevent a “Facebook Revolution” by proposing that the owners of online social media be responsible for all content posted on their websites. Despite the regime’s habitual public swagger, these policies betray a government deeply afraid of its own people. An April 2009 report outlined the threat perceived by the authorities quite clearly. Specifically it stated:
"The Russian intelligence community is seriously worried about latent social processes capable of leading to the beginning of civil wars and conflicts on RF [Russian Federation] territory that can end up in a disruption of territorial integrity and the appearance of a large number of new sovereign powers. Data of an information “leak,” the statistics and massive number of antigovernment actions, and official statements and appeals of the opposition attest to this."