Saturday, September 27, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin’s Tragedy is Power without Purpose, Stanovya Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 27 – Vladimir Putin has accumulated all the power he could possibly need to move in almost any direction, but despite that, “it is impossible to define with any precision what in fact [he] wants to do” because he does not appear to have any medium or long-term plan, according to Tatyana Stanovaya.


            For the last 15 years, many have speculated as to who Putin is and what he wants, but no one has been able to say anything more than that he wants to build power, the Moscow commentator says.  That he has done, and he has “everything he needs” to transform the country (


            “’The fifth column’ has been driven into the extra-systemic field, elections have been turned into a plebiscite about the level of trust in presidential favorites, human rights activists have become ‘foreign agents,’ the media is patriotic, and bloggers are responsible. What next?” The answer so far is “NOTHING.”


            And that is because, she says, “Putin’s chief secret is that he does not have any mid-range let alone long-term strategy for the development of the country.” As a result, what is happening is that “the country is being run by decisions which Putin does not want to take” and that in turn is leading to a situation in which reality is being distorted or even ignored.


            In the current situation, Putin “supports the separatists [in Ukraine] but doesn’t permit the separate of regions … [he] declares war on NGOs but allows them to work [He] condemns McDonalds but promises not to close restaurants. [And he] expands the provisions of the law on political parties to allow some protest but then doesn’t register Navalny’s party.”


            What is holding Putin back from “calling things by their own names?”  According to Stanovaya, it not because he is clever but because he does not want to commit himself to a consistent policy but rather wants to bob and weave and keep everyone waiting for him to declare himself. But he won’t, she says, because he “doesn’t know” what he wants.


            That approach may be very good for building power, she continues. It is certainly popular with the population. But it means that despite all appearances, Putin’s policies are more reactive than pro-active and that again despite appearances, he is far more dependent on what others do than many think. And that in turn means it is less good for keeping power.


            Putin is “fulfilling the contract concluded with society but is secretly ‘changing’ it as far as the elites are concerned. It is possible to live a dual live while one has the resources. [But] when it becomes impossible to fill everyone’s mouth, then times of change will come.  And when that happens, Putin will find it very difficult to convince anyone” about his “’project.’”


            Precisely because, she concludes, he doesn’t have one -- or at least hasn’t given a clear sign.


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