The basic struggle in Russia's domestic politics is "between the television and the refrigerator" — i.e. between an imagine of a great superpower that has risen from its knees and the country's economy, journalist Brian Whitmore said in an interview with BNS.
"The television tells Russians that they live in a great superpower that has risen from its knees and is reclaiming its rightful place in the world," said Whitmore, a journalist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who will be one of the speakers at the Lennart Meri Conference taking place in Tallinn this weekend. "The refrigerator tells people that the economy is in crisis and many people can barely provide for their most basic needs."
According to Whitmore, following the annexation of Crimea and the patriotic fervor it unleashed, the television was clearly winning this battle. "But the annexation of Crimea was like giving the Russian public a collective hit of cocaine; it was a drug that made people forget about their problems," he explained. "But the thing about drugs is that they wear off and this is what we are seeing now.
"What the March 26 protests [opposition leader Alexei] Navalny organized and which brought out tens of thousands of people across Russia showed us is that people are not afraid to attend demonstrations even when they are unsanctioned, even when the authorities have forbid them, even at the risk of arrest," Whitmore said.
The Lennart Meri Conference, entitled "Darkest Just Before the Dawn? The War on Trust and How to Win It," will take place in Tallinn from May 12-14.
Editor: Aili Vahtla