Staunton, January 25 – Vladimir Putin is not building a state on the basis of either communist or fascist regimes of the past but rather one that will be “a state without precedent” in that he wants it to combine elements of each of those as well as features from other regimes as well, according to Andrey Zubov.
The Russian analyst who was forced out of his position at MGIMO because of his opposition to Putin’s policies on Ukraine argues that the Kremlin leader is seeking to build “a corporate state of a fascist type packaged in Soviet ideology, the ideology of Stalinism” (golos-ameriki.ru/content/russia-zubov/2611952.html).
Internationally, the political scientist says, Russia finds itself in a situation much like Soviet Russia did before Rapallo with no major country recognizing it as a legitimate state. And domestically, it is more authoritarian than it was in the 19th century, even though “officially” it is a democratic country.
At a formal level, he continues, the current Russian regime “is trying to observe” the Constitution and the laws, but what is “unprecedented” is the fact that today “we have in practice a civil dictatorship in the country. Perhaps, for the first time in its history” because the tsars argued their power was based on God’s will and the Bolsheviks that theirs reflected force alone.
In this respect, Zubov says, “contemporary Russia very much reminds one of Latin American dictatorships or of Thailand in the 1940s and 1950s,” but it doesn’t resemble “anything in Russian history” because “Putin is building an unprecedented state,” one very different from the country’s past or Europe’s present.
It is an authoritarian one that nonetheless has a certain “pluralist economy,” although one in which the government exercises control. In that regard, he says, Russia today is like “the Italian fascism under Italy with its nationalism and union with the church” – although Zubov hastens to add that “there is no complete similarity” between the two.
Russia may soon leave the Council of Europe as Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin has warned, Zubov says, a step that would “lead to the further self-isolation of the country” but one that would put Russia “outside the system of control which is traditionally called ‘the third basket.’” As a practical matter, it is already there.
As far as Putin’s militarist course is concerned, Zubov says, one must remember that it was chosen before the collapse of oil prices, something the Kremlin leader and his advisors could not have foreseen. But now they have fallen, and Russia finds itself trapped between two diverging lines.
On the one hand, the Russian economy is “suffering a complete catastrophe and specialists are arguing only about when a default will occur,” even as military spending increases. But on the other, Putin has little option but to continue to boost the latter even in the face of the former.
“If Putin stops throwing money at militarization,” Zubov says, “Russia will cease to be a state with the most powerful continental army in Europe, and their the prospects for the creation of a great power with the help of force will turn out to be completely illusory.” That is a prospect Putin cannot accept voluntarily.
What awaits Russia if it continues its Putinist course? Zubov asks. And he suggests that “most likely, there will be social disorders and a social explosion. Up-to-date anti-Maidan storm trooper detachments are being prepared for that.” But what will happen when the clash between the two comes, only God alone knows.