Staunton, January 7 – Officially, Vladimir Putin has been the target of 14 assassination attempts, Stanislav Belkovsky says; unofficially, there have been dozens. But those who tried or been accused of trying to kill the Kremlin leader have all without exception either died during the investigation or “ended their lives and carrier in psychiatric special hospitals.”
However, the most important consequence of these attacks, the Russian commentator says, is their impact on Putin’s paranoia and policies. After what the Russian security services said was an assassination attempt at the time of the Sochi Olympiad, Putin changed course toward the West (echo.msk.ru/programs/agent_provocateur/2123708-echo/).
That, combined with the failure of Western leaders to attend the Olympiad and the victory of the Maidan in Ukraine, Belkovsky says, led Putin to drop plans to seek improved relations with the West he’d been considering and adopt the hard line that led to the Crimean Anschluss, efforts at regime change in Montenegro, and Internet attacks on Western elections.
“One must say,” he continues, “that in totalitarian societies and in countries with totalitarian regimes, an attack [on the leader] is the only means of changing the powers that be if the attack is successful.” And “in Russia, there are no democratic institutions. Everything depends on one man.”
“If, God forbid and may God give him health and many more years of life, something were to happen to [Putin], then the regime would never be the same and the country would never be the same either.” Understanding that, he says, explains why the regime “constantly and hysterically is increasing the number of guards” to ensure “the security of the Russian president.”