Staunton, December 6 – One of the most typical characteristics of Russian political power is that it is unlimited because it has little relationship to the public face of the state and is not formalized. That is the case with Vladimir Putin’s regime now, Irina Pavlova says; and it is one of “the essential signs” that his manner of governance increasingly resembles Stalin’s.
Like Stalin before him, Putin does have a high place in the public façade of power. He is after all president of the Russian Federation. But also like Stalin, Putin and his regime make the real decisions in informal bodies out of sight and beyond the reach of public control, the US-based Russian historian says (ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2016/12/blog-post_5.html).
(For a useful discussion of why this problem is likely to prove so fateful for Russia’s development, see Vladimir Kazantsev’s discussion in today’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta” of the absence of any effective checks and balances on the actions of the Russian leader (ng.ru/ng_politics/2016-12-06/9_6877_ierarhia.html.)
Pavlova notes how difficult it has been for historians to determine exactly who made what decisions in Stalin’s time and suggests that “future historians of Putin’s power will certainly be confronted by similar problems.” That will lead to debates about just how much power he really had and what role particular “clans” within the government played.
This is all by Putin’s design, she suggests, and today, all the major decisions are made not in public institutions but behind the scenes, something that makes it difficult to hold anyone responsible or to be sure just what is going on. And that in turn allows the regime to do things that it can deny it is doing.
As an example of this latter situation, she points to the special operation which the regime has conducted to promote among Russians a more positive view of Stalin, something that some Russian analysts have fallen into the regime’s trap and blamed on the Russian people rather than on the Kremlin.
As she points out in another post devoted specifically to this campaign by the regime, the deification of Stalin has far broader purposes than most Russians or others understand. It is designed to promote “the myth about the lack of alternatives” for Russians and about “their complete dependence on the supreme power.”
Those attitudes work to the benefit of the residents of the Kremlin; they would hardly arise among Russians on their own in the absence of official encouragement and support (ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2016/12/blog-post_3.html#more).