Staunton, February 27 – Many fear that after Putin, there will be either a continuation of his system or its destruction by a revolutionary dictatorship that will take the country back to what it was before 1991, Yevgeny Ikhlov says; but there is a third category of possibilities arising out of the nature of Putinism itself which has evolved over the last two decades.
There have been many Putinisms, the Moscow commentator says; and the one on offer now is not at all like the one Vladimir Putin sought to implement at the state of his reign. It is certainly true, Ikhlov continues, that “the current system is impossible” without Putin in place (vestnikcivitas.ru/pbls/4207).
None of those in the current political firmament have his “revolutionary (counter-revolutionary) charisma” to do that or to dismantle the entire system. But that doesn’t mean that Putinism of the kind on display in the earlier years of his presidency may not be exactly the half-way house that many will want, authoritarianism in the service of positive changes.
The appearance of a younger and more energetic authoritarian leader cannot be excluded especially if he or she seeks to “reanimate Putinism in its initial form,” including strategic partnership with the US, a genuine fight against corruption, and moves to expand federalism and local control.
Putin as many have forgotten including perhaps the man himself began that way, and if a new leader returned to that approach and even called it the continuation of Putinism, Ikhlov suggests, it could garner a great deal of support from the currently angry and disaffected population who would also be pleased by the apparent call for continuity.
This is possible, the Moscow commentator says, because “Putinism is by its nature a regime of the Bonapartist type, which presupposes some Napoleon if not the First then at least the Third.”
Making this transition would not be easy, of course, and it might not happen. But it would be both more consistent with Russian political folkways than any other and certainly less costly to both the regime and the people.
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