Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Putin Repeating Seven Mistakes Soviet Leaders Made Before 1991, Eidman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 7 – Regimes that made history into an ideology often suffer because the picture of the past they paint leads them to ignore inconvenient facts and thus fail to avoid repeating the errors of those who have gone before them. Indeed, it may make them far more likely to recapitulate the past than even those who ignore it altogether.

            Ukrainian editor Sergey Garmash makes this point (, and Russian commentator Igor Eidman lists seven ways in which Vladimir Putin has fallen into this trap (

            According to Eidman, who works for Germany’s Deutsche Welle station, this is becoming increasingly obvious. Don’t the arrests in Daghestan remind those old enough of the Uzbek affair at the end of Soviet times? he asks rhetorically before providing a list of seven ways in which Putin is perhaps fatally copying the mistakes of Soviet leaders before 1991.

1.      Putin like Gorbachev has entered an arms race with a weak economy that can’t support it.

2.      Putin has gotten involved in long-running foreign policy “adventures,” Afghanistan in the case of Gorbachev who ultimately got out of that one and Putin in the case of Ukraine.

3.      Putin is prepared to fund all the misfits of the world who are prepared to support him just as Soviet leaders including Gorbachev until the money ran out were prepared to back those of “’a socialist orientation.’”

4.      Putin is spending enormous sums on “pompous celebrations and ‘projects of the century’ like the Olympics, the World Cup and the Kerch Bridge, just as the Soviets did with BAM and other ultimately failed projects.

5.      Putin has created a situation in which relations with the West have soured. As a result, the West has imposed sanctions. Something very similar happened at the end of Soviet times.

6.      Putin has started conflicts with the national elites in the non-Russian republics by installing outsiders in them as now in Daghestan just as Gorbachev famously did in Kazakhstan in 1986.

7.      Putin’s policies have led to a decline in the standard of living for the majority of the population just as Soviet policies did, with stagnation and popular unhappiness the result.

            When the Soviets and Gorbachev adopted this approach, it led “the Soviet economy to collapse and the country to disintegration.”  One can only hope Putin’s unthinking repetition of what Moscow did at the end of Soviet times will have the same results, Eidman suggests.

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