Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ever More Russian Analysts See Putin Regime Running Out of Time, Solovey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 28 – Over the last eight to ten months, Valery Solovey says, most analysts in Russia have sharply reduced their assessment of just how long the Putin regime has to right itself. In the spring, most thought it had “from five to ten years;” now, “the very same people assess its safety margin at two to three years.”

            In a comment for the Nezygar telegram channel, the MGIMO professor and frequent commentator on Russian politics suggests that the reason for that has been the obvious declinein “the quality of rule” at all levels and “the growth in the number of administrative errors and stupidities” officials have committed (

            That has been accompanied, Solovey continues, by a sharp decline in the popularity of the regime among the Russian populace and by a growing sense among in the analytic community that this is not only irreversible but also represents a serious danger because it deprives the regime of its chief support.

            At the same time, he says, officials and those in the economic and financial sector have begun to display if “not yet apocalyptic but extremely worrying expectations” that the existing system is “approaching its historical end.” Such feelings have become both widespread and obvious “for the first time,” the analyst says.

            “No one seriously believes in the possibility of changing these negative trends and saving the system,” although various efforts are being made to try to suggest that this is possible. But all of them bear the marks of “imitation,” cynicism, and even desperation, Solovey argues.

            And the behavior of those in positions of authority has only called attention to this by “the conscious and unconscious ignoring of any social conventions” and the willingness to say and do things that reflect the fears of those who do so that they have no way to win back the population and so must celebrate while they still can.

            If a capable opposition movement were to emerge, Solovey says, “the development of [these] negative trends will sharply accelerate.”

                Solovey is correctly describing a trend in the Russian commentariat. Whether he or they are in fact correct or whether there is in this case as there has been before a kind of group think that leads many or even most to go now in one direction and now in another is less certain; and consequently, one must beware of viewing this mirror of Russian reality as without distortion.

            But to the extent that so many are shifting their assessments in the direction the MGIMO professor points to, it is important to take note of that, however often the commentariat in Moscow has been wrong before.    

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