President, Dmitry Medvedev, recognizes that it is imperative to take charge of a renewed struggle against terrorism, and this “re-securitization” of the political agenda could change the character of his still fledgling leadership.
There is a clear risk that the security threats emanating from the North Caucasus could once again determine and shape the trajectory of Russia’s development. This selective insecurity makes the propaganda appeals for social unity against terrorism hollow and false, while the passive isolation of society from the state evolves into potential antagonism. Medvedev’s attempts to assert his leadership by presiding over a broad mobilization against an urgent threat are frustrated by the lack of interest within the corrupt elites, and the absence of trust in the divided and disoriented society. The necessary shift of priority to security matters obviously does not help the “modernization” agenda, which implies a departure from bureaucratic omnipotence, but neither could it impel a return to a state-centric model. The social contract that combines petro-prosperity with quasi-democracy has expired, but Russia –much like its state-controlled TV, which for several hours remained silent about the bombings on the metro– is still trying to ignore the breakdown of Putinism.