Staunton, August 20 – Throughout Russian history, Russian rulers have benefited from the perception among the population that the tsar is good and would do the right thing if he knew but that the boyars around him are bad and that they are preventing the tsar from learning the truth.
Because that is so, most commentators have read the findings of the latest Levada Center poll in which 56 percent of Russians that Putin’s entourage “is not providing him with all the information about what is going on in the country” as an indication that “the good tsar-bad boyars” view still holds.
But Daniil Kotsyubinsky, a Russian commentator, says that may be a mistake and that the willingness of Russians to criticize the government – “almost 40 percent consider” that doing so is “not something awful – is growing, something that shows the Putin regime if not yet Putin personally is increasingly unpopular (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=55D566AFCB12F).
He suggests that this is “an extremely concerning little symptom for Putin” because it suggests not only that he is “not especially feared” but also that Russians are “beginning to be disappointed in him, viewing him as a weak leader” who doesn’t control his government or the country.
At present, “of course,” Kotsyubinsky adds, “this is a myth. But from such myths grow revolutions.”
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