Staunton, December 24 – Rare is the political leader who attacks as threats the very things that he has built his system on, but Vladimir Putin has now done just that, arguing that official corruption and rampant illegality threaten Russia’s stability, an accurate but unintentionally self-damning diagnosis.
Speaking at the United Russia Party congress, the Kremlin leader made this declaration, one clearly designed to win popular support for his re-election by suggesting that he is now prepared to take on two of the ills on which his system is based and without which it would not have the shape it does (vesti.ru/doc.html?id=2969494).
Whether Putin in fact is prepared to do more than condemn these phenomena except in a highly selective fashion seems unlikely – his system is based on both -- but it is good politics to stake out such a position. But what is interesting about his remarks is that in the case of this evil as in others, he links the problems directly to the stability of the country.
Indeed, that is the most important aspect of his remark. Putin has made his career by linking everything he does to that notion and thereby made it impossible for anyone to challenge him because to do so is to challenge something that Russians highly value especially after the turbulence of the 1990s.
And consequently, while the Kremlin leader is likely to get credit for saying the right thing here as elsewhere, it is almost certain that he won’t take any action that would threaten his own power, however unfortunate for Russia that power continues to be.
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