Sunday, January 21, 2018

In Putin, Russians Thought They Were Getting a Stierlitz But They May Have Gotten a Hitler Instead, Eidman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 21 – At the end of the Yeltsin era, Russians told pollsters that they considered Stierlitz the best candidate among movie heroes for the position of president of the country,” a view that makes perfect sense and helps to explain why Vladimir Putin who appeared to be a real-life Stierlitz won support so easily, Igor Eidman says.

            Max Otto von Stierlitz, of course, is the Russian counterpart to James Bond, a character in both a series of popular novels by Yulian Semenov and the blockbuster television series Seventeen Moments of Spring who as a Soviet intelligence officer worked to destroy the Nazi regime from the inside.

            According to Eidman, a commentator for Deutsche Welle, “residents of Russia traditionally view their ruling elite as an alien and hostile force. It is easily associated in their minds with the Nazi bosses from Seventeen Moments of Spring,”  people who can’t be defeated head on (
                Such regimes, Nazi or their own, “can be destroyed only from within with the help of cleverness and insidious actions.” That is just what Stierlitz did, and in 1999-2000, many Russians viewed Putin as his real life incarnation, as someone who with a similar apart could destroy “the ruling oligarchate” and its institutions.

            That was in fact, Eidman says, the secret of his amazingly rapid ascent to power.  But 18 years on, the oligarchs are still around, getting fatter and even multiplying.  The population is getting tired of waiting, and the Russian commentator suggests that “soon the limits of its waiting may be exhausted.”

            Russians are “beginning to doubt: is Putin really Stierlitz,, our agent in the rear of the enemy? Or is he the number one oligarch and thus an enemy, the guarantor of the power of the criminal hierarchy.” And if that is the case, Eidman continues, is he not the Stierlitz they wanted but rather the Hitler that they didn’t.

            When that feeling becomes widespread and crystallizes, he suggests, Russians will begin to look for someone “who can destroy the system not from the inside but from the outside, head on” – someone like Marshal Zhukov in the Soviet past or perhaps even Aleksey Navalny in Russia in the near future.

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