Tuesday, December 25, 2018

'Putin’s Cult of Personality has Finally Died in Russia,’ Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 24 – There is at present no “classic cult of personality” about Putin in Russia, Liliya Shevtsova says. There is only “a small ‘little cult,’” one that is both artificial and hypocritical, and Putin himself likely understands that he is no “’real’ tsar” and that his successors will follow the time-honored Russian practice and denounce and disown him.

            Russians are increasingly fed up with Putin, polls show, the Russian commentator says. Sixty-one percent say Putin is responsible for Russia’s problems; 79 percent say his regime is corrupt; and 54 percent say Russia should seek a rapprochement with the West (glavred.info/opinions/10036322-kult-lichnosti-putina-v-rossii-okonchatelno-umer.html).

            Nonetheless, Russians aren’t going into the streets, at least not yet, Shevtsova says. They don’t see an alternative, they are frightened that Russia may fall apart, and they are not sure that such actions could lead to things becoming even worse.  As a result, the Kremlin still doesn’t have a lot to fear.

            But ever more Russians are talking about Putin’s plans to remain in power for the rest of his life and about a post-Putin future for themselves. And these conversations show that Russians aren’t prepared to put up with Putin forever and that many expect real changes when he leaves the scene one way or another.

            Such expectations exist not because anyone thinks Putin can’t orchestrate his successor, Shevtsova continues, but rather because even if as likely that person comes from the security services or in circles close to them, the new leader will likely not continue the Putin line but strike out in a new direction to build his own authority.

            “After the departure of Vladimir Putin, politically or biologically,” she argues, “the new power will try to do what all Russian leaders have done during transitions: to strengthen themselves by laying the blame for everything on their predecessor.”

            It happened to Stalin; it will almost certainly happen again with Putin even if he names his own man to replace him. 

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