12 January 2021
By Dmitry Bykov, writer, poet, journalist:
On why the Russian National Guard recently purchased special equipment for two billion rubles.
What actually was purchased? One billion one hundred million roubles – for protective equipment for service personnel (helmets, body armour, goggles, gas masks, shields). 830 million for buses and armoured vehicles. Only 60 million on crowd dispersal special equipment (rubber grenades, pepper cans, shockers), an insignificant amount, in essence. Everything else can be used in a variety of ways.
It is safe to say that the Russian National Guard will not need to disperse demonstrations. If there is a change in those in power in Russia, then it will not be through street fighting: Belarus has shown this clearly. Those in power fall either under the weight of their own incompetence, as a result of an unsuccessful putsch or as a result of a successful conspiracy of the elites. Street fighting makes sense when the defenders of those in power at some point become horrified: what are we doing?! We are shooting at our own people! The people will not forgive us for this! A modern National Guardsman, regardless of nationality, doesn’t know such fear. Certainly in Russia there is something more at stake than a clear conscience. There is no conscience for a long time, it has been abolished. Only sovereignty remains and you can safely eat children for it, if they tell you. The experience of the damned nineties showed unequivocally that nothing happens to the executors of criminal orders.
All authorities, especially young ones, need guards. The fighters against the dissidents from yesteryear headed the security services of banks and TV channels, while the freedom fighters from these TV channels were easily recruited into state propaganda during the first “frosts” (term used for the period of consolidation of the authoritarian regime in Russia – translator’s note): does it matter which oligarchs to serve? None of the current Russian National Guards will be held accountable for any of their actions. The times were like that, they will answer, and everyone was complicit (it’s true, the unsullied ones either left or got involved). Servuce personnel of the Russian National Guard don’t have to worry. They will not be blamed for anything and the demand for them will be high.
That’s when they’ll need it all. Protective equipment (for security companies). Helmets (for street patrol). Gas masks (in case of a gas attack by an unscrupulous competitor). Buses (for taking employees out to the countryside or transportation to protect the superiors’ summer house). Bulletproof vests (when and which security guard was bothered by a bulletproof vest?). And goggles, of course, in case any of the customers who foolishly went on demonstrations in the past suddenly recognise someone’s face. There is little risk, but the emotion, you will agree, is unpleasant.
Translated by Ecaterina Hughes