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"V" - the Stolen "Victory" of Rashism

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Photo: The penetration of rashist symbols into the official design of the presidential election. Source: Collage The Gaze/Leonid Lukashenko.
Photo: The penetration of rashist symbols into the official design of the presidential election. Source: Collage The Gaze/Leonid Lukashenko.

In Russia, preparations are underway for the exemplary "election" of dictator Vladimir Putin as president for the fifth time. Although the "election" itself is devoid of real meaning, the permanent head of the Kremlin continues to behave in a completely shameless manner. He tries to avoid saying "yes" to his candidacy directly for as long as possible, preferring to use unambiguous phrases in conversations with the military. However, the same "direct line" with Putin confirms the obviousness of his intentions. Putin's attempts to play “hard to get” look ironic, since for Russians the situation with Putin is the opposite - hard to get out. Even the official symbols of the election hint at both the future "winner" and the policies he will implement. So what is encoded in the symbols of the Russian presidential election?

Vladimir Putin has been at the helm of the Russian Federation for almost a quarter of a century, a truly royal period of time. For Russians, the words "Putin" and "power" have long been synonymous. This means identifying not only the positive from conditional victories, but also the negative from failures. The failures and problems that exist in Putin's time are usually explained to Russians as the responsibility of others, not himself. For Russians, he is the bearer of "supreme policy," a leader who leads the people but is not responsible for "comfort" along the way.

Such a system of distributing the responsibility of power concentrated in one hand has long existed in Russia, but rather chaotically. For example, it is hardly possible to find a person in Russia who would blame Putin for the alleged absence of a light bulb in the entrance. But a series of shameful military failures in Ukraine still casts a shadow over the reputation of the "victorious tsar." It is clear that for Russian propaganda, this is a generally unacceptable situation, and on the eve of the next "election" ritual, it is unacceptable.

Even the symbols hidden in the official design of the Russian presidential election are intended to help one better navigate the intricacies of Russian national politics. They not only evoke direct associations with Putin as the "master" of the election, but also serve as a kind of "breakwater." The element of continuous problems in which Russians live is breaking down, and a wave of "global victory" is on the horizon, skillfully tamed by the permanent "president."

Visual and Ideological Features of Rashism

Rashism, as a political regime in modern Russia, is evolving. In particular, it is no longer associated with a "candidate" but with the very institution of elections. The pre-election symbolism of the presidential election is only one manifestation of this process, but it has an important ideological significance.

The main symbol of the 2024 presidential election is the Latin letter "V" depicted in the colors of the Russian flag, pointing vertically (the vertical orientation of the tricolor to "V" stylistically refers to the "St. George's Ribbon"). Like everything "historically Russian," this symbol was borrowed from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II. 

In fact, the use of the Latin alphabet, despite the official policy of rejecting everything "Western," is symptomatic of the Kremlin's lack of ideas of its own. Therefore, it is the Latin "V" that should become a catchy sign that symbolizes the policy of the Kremlin regime and Putin as its current leader. It should "go to the people" and become a sign that helps to recognize "their own".

The fundamental meaning of the rashist "V" symbol is "victory." The notion of "victory" is central to the ideology of the "Russian world." It exploits historical memory, evokes idealized nostalgia for the times of "heroic ancestors" and their victory in the so-called "Great Patriotic War." At the same time, the exploitation of the "victory" and the struggle for it should cause Russians to "understand" the difficulty of the path to it. The sacrifice that the Russian people must make on the altar of "Victory", as the "old men" once did.

To the Motherland! To Putin!

It can be taken as a fact that Ukraine's struggle for independence has even spoiled the ideological concepts prepared by the Kremlin. The fact is that the invasion of Ukraine, exactly as planned - openly, brazenly, boldly, as if it was necessary - was seen as the main "achievement", the greatest "victory" of Putin's Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

The symbol of this was the letter "Z," and the ideological framework of rashism was built around it. However, precisely because "Z" is associated with the invasion of Ukraine and all the failures of the "second army in the world," it was necessary to highlight the "V" associated with the aggression in Ukraine as a symbol of the global struggle against the West, where Putin has had more success. Instead, "Z" remained a symbol of the invasion itself: that's why the occupation units are called "Storm Z" and why opponents of the war in Russia come up with abusive interpretations of "Z".

In fact, the ideological necessity to distinguish the sphere of politics and the zone of the responsible leader under the symbol "V" is of practical importance for the Kremlin, protecting the "halo of holiness" and "infallibility" in the eyes of the people over the "supreme power". As of now, when this concept is still raw, Putin, as a leader, is very sensitive to the course of the invasion of Ukraine. 

Last year, the traditional "direct line with Putin" was disrupted precisely because of the shameful defeats at the front. This year, before the "elections," a direct line was only possible through Avdiivka. It is ironic that the Kremlin is willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of soldiers' lives, not to mention equipment and other losses, in order to avoid answering questions about the significant losses and lack of any meaningful success in Ukraine on live TV.

It is noteworthy that during the live line, despite the "stunning" success of the Russian army in Ukraine, according to Russian propaganda, Putin did not make this the main topic, and on the contrary, avoided specifics about the course of the invasion of Ukraine. He concentrated on the issues of "tsarist jurisdiction," which is what the rashist "V" sign symbolizes.

Even the mention of the comical 3.5% growth in Russia's GDP for the year means that Putin's role is that of a "marshal of the supreme victory" to which he is "successfully" leading the Russian state. That is, the invasion of Ukraine (symbolized by the "Z" sign) is only one of the many tasks of the leader, which is being implemented by others. Along with counteracting the West's sneaky tricks: support for Ukraine, sanctions, isolation of Russia, "Russophobia," and so on. And so, you see, even in such "titanic" conditions, there is "economic growth"!  

Rashism Is an Election Environment, not a Choice

The penetration of rashist symbols into the official design of the presidential election, rather than "Putin the candidate," is just one of the evidences of the spread of the ideology of rashism to the state institutions of the Russian Federation. It has already become part of the everyday life of modern Russia. This is no longer a policy choice of one of the candidates, even a guaranteed winner. Ten years ago, this was not the case, when rashism described itself in opposition to hostile values. "Anti-Maidan," "Russian Spring" instead of "Arab Spring," even "local self-defense" in Crimea were still copycats. The fundamental rashist meaning of "our own/strangers" already existed, but it could describe mainly "strangers." Now this is no longer the case; it clearly articulates its aggressive policy and does so with appropriate symbols that unite its followers.

In 2024, rashism evolved significantly, not only ideologically. In particular, a characteristic feature of elections in a rashist political system will be the admission of military personnel of the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine to vote. Even holding elections in the occupied territories is not a new tool; it has proven itself in Crimea. But the participation of its own occupation troops in the occupied territories is another desired goal that the "supreme policy" of rashism (V), for which Putin is responsible, is trying to achieve. This is the vision of the geopolitical "power" of the state in the ideology of rashism, the "success" of which is reported by the "Tsar".

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