Saturday, September 8, 2018

Putin Regime’s Inability to Admit Mistakes Paralyzing Moscow and Costing Russia a Lot, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 8 – The inability of Vladimir Putin and his regime to admit error or take responsibility “is paralyzing the system and blocking its ability to get out of difficult situations” like the Skripal case and the government’s plan to boost retirement ages, Sergey Shelin says.

            Acknowledgement of mistakes if it is sincere, the Rosbalt commentator continues, “is a very strong political move, which Yeltsin sometimes used with success.” The Skripal case and the pension plan are two obvious Russian cases which “require something similar” given the costs of not doing something (

            Unfortunately, Shelin continues, “in the coordinates of the Putin system, recognition of guilty and apologizing for mistakes simply do not exist.”  And because the number of mistakes is growing, this inability to do what is necessary is quickly becoming a major problem because it reflects “growing systemic weakness,” one Moscow will have to pay for more and more often.

            Had the Kremlin been able to admit a mistake in the case of Skripal early on, perhaps shifting the blame to some lower-ranking official, it would have escaped much of the opprobrium it has brought on itself and the new and harsher sanctions that Western countries have avoided.

            And had the Putin regime been able to admit a mistake in the case of the pension reform plan, perhaps by blaming Dmitry Medvedev or someone else and walking away, it would have won credit with the population rather than sparked protests that have left it with significantly less popular support and significantly more public cynicism than before.

            Its failure to do either, Shelin argues, has weakened it; but its unwillingness to face up to mistakes points to a more serious problem: both an unwillingness and even an inability to learn from what is going on around it, a pattern that almost guarantees there will be more and perhaps even larger errors of judgment in the future.

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