Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 1 Vote Left Putin More a Lame Duck than He Was Before It, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 6 – The officially reported results of the July 1 vote on the constitutional amendments reflected what Vladimir Putin believes the Russian people should believe as he serves as their president for the rest of his life, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. But the vote did not create “’the new norm’” he hoped it would (t.me/kremlebezBashennik/15020).

            Instead, it had just the opposite effect and leaves him “much more in the position of ‘a lame duck’ than he was a half a year ago.” Then it was assumed that when his current term runs out, he would leave the presidency for good and occupy some other as yet to be defined position of power.

            Many in the elites were troubled by this uncertainty, but many in the population who despite living most of their lives under Putin viewed this unchanging rulership as something positive because they viewed having a rotation in the top jobs as something modern and desirable.

            “The hopes of the elites for stability and the people for changes were factors gave promise to be able to maintain an optimal moving balance for several more years,” Inozemtsev says. But after the July 1 vote, the situation was turned upside down and for both elites and the population, “2024 now looks completely different.”

            Elites still loyal may be pleased that they don’t have to face major changes anytime soon and thus may be able to pass on their wealth and positions to their heirs without a fight. “But the population is convinced that Putin will seek to extend his time in office and that, as a result, the chance for changes has disappeared.”

            For Russians, that means that “four years of hope have evaporated,” Inozemtsev says. “The hopelessness of the population is different from the doubts of the elites: the latter have a certain freedom … while the latter in the seventh year of economic decline with closed borders do not and do not see it appearing.”

            “In other words, “the voting on the Constitution became an open exchange of the expectations of the people for the peace of the oligarchy.”

            This is hardly an even exchange because “the attitudes of the masses are more important than the interests of the courtiers. Thus, the Kremlin should not deceive itself” about the meaning of the results it has reported or its ability to get them in future elections, “even if they are falsified to 146 percent.” It still faces the prospect of losing such votes.

            “Over the course of 20 years,” Inozemtsev says, “Putin has shown himself to be a good tactician, but his tactical successes have been based on a constant changing of the rules of the game: from elections which are conducted each time in new conditions to the substitution of urine at Sochi, the change of borders in Ukraine, the change of pension rules, and now of the Constitution itself.”

            But today, the Kremlin leader doesn’t need to outplay anyone: he needs a strategy; and it is unfortunately the case for him, that no once has one of his long-term plans succeeded. Consequently, “he should not hope that he will be able to fulfill the plan to ‘immortalize’” himself in office.

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