Putin Following Path of Yugoslavia’s Tito and with Potentially Similar Results, Savvin Says
March 18 – The plethora of constitutional amendments, including Tereshkov’s
which will allow Vladimir Putin to remain president until 2036, do not solve the
problem of transition but instead push it off into the distant future, an
arrangement that may help the Kremlin now but entails ever more serious negative
consequences, Dimitry Savvin says.
is because what is happening not only shows that Putin does not have a plan and
thus has fallen back on the strategy Yugoslavia adopted for Marshal Tito, a
strategy that maintained stability as long as he was alive but then led to the
disintegration of the country, the editor of the Riga-based Harbin portal says
On the one hand,
Putin like Tito has made himself a president for life, a dictator for the
purposes of development who promises democracy but only after him. And on the
other, he has failed as Tito did to arrange for a transition and even boosted the
still-shadowy State Council into an organization whose members will represent
partial rather than all-Russian interests.
In the short
term, this may work for Putin both at home and abroad. He and his
representatives can tell Russians and especially the young that he is working
to create conditions under which they will get the democracy and freedom he
suggests Russia is not yet economically prepared for.
and they can tell the Western powers that Putin remains committed to democracy
but like other modernizing leaders, he needs and deserves their support rather
than hostility if he is to achieve that goal – especially given that they have
supported other dictators who have made similar claims.
recalls what Yugoslavia did with its constitution in 1974. Tito was made
president for life because of his special role in the country’s history. “Putin
has decided to act in an analogous way, keeping for himself the place of the single
and unrepeatable Father of the Fatherland.”
is not all Putin has done. He has also retained the shadowy State Council, an
institution he clearly intends to use but that is so undefined that it seems
unlikely to serve as the commanding height of the system but rather become a
new arena for conflicts not only between Putin and others but among the others
about the future.
That too has a Yugoslav analogy, Savvin
says, because at any moment, this Council may take on real power; and its members
are likely to represent the interests of only segments of the country and its
lower-standing institutions rather than the national interest of the Russian
Federation as a whole.
What this means, the conservative
Russian commentator says, is that “the Kremlin does not see for itself an
effective mechanism for the transition ofr power. The single model which more
or less satisfies the neo-Soviet ruling stratum is that of the Chinese Peoples
Republic.” But as recent developments there show, that model leads to the
return of an ordinary dictatorship.
That is the path Russia is currently
following, but its consequences down the pike are “completely obvious: The
longer the transition of power will be put off, the fewer chances there will be
that it will take place in a positive way. And the example of Tito’s Yugoslavia
is extremely indicative.”
“A dictatorship cannot be transformed
into a democracy automatically by the inclusion of ‘sleeping’ institutions
earlier written about in laws but in fact not functioning,” Savvin says.Instead, with the passing of the dictator,
who wants to hold onto all power, the regime faces the prospect of losing
According to the commentator, “after
the death of Tito there did not remain a single politician who had serious
authority in the country as a whole – all significant leaders had support only
within the limits of their national republics,” a pattern that set the stage
for the disintegration of the country and its descent into civil war.
and continuity are possible under a dictatorship only if the dictator grooms a
successor or creates an institution out of which such a leader with national
goals can emerge. Russia has neither at least as of now, Savvin continues.And the much-ballyhooed constitutional
amendments have not pointed to the emergence of either.
As a result,
just like Yugoslavia a half century ago, Russia faces the continuation of a
dictatorship and the prospect that with the passing of the dictator, the country
will face not a transition but chaos and disintegration. Putin may have put
that off for a time, but he has not solved any of the challenges Russia faces.