Staunton, June 24 – In one of his first interviews since formally resigning from MGIMO, Valery Solovey says that conditions in Russia have reached the point that he is confident that Vladimir Putin will leave the presidency before his term ends and that his system will collapse with his departure.
“We are at the initial phase of a political crisis,” the Moscow commentator says, one that still has “a latent character.” But “next year, in 2020, this crisis will acquire an open character [as] a broad, all-national one” (meduza.io/feature/2019/06/24/eto-budet-masshtabnyy-obschenatsionalnyy-krizis-imenno-politicheskiy).
This crisis, Solovey continues, “will last about two years and will end with the replacement of the political regime,” ebbing and flowing but moving ineluctably in that direction. Unlike in earlier years when he spoke about the crisis, he continues, all the necessary conditions for this are in place.
“Putin will not serve out his term and will leave,” he says. “By what scenario will depend in large measure on him. But he will leave before 2024,” Solovey says. “This I can confirm,” and with his departure, his system will collapse and there will be genuine “regime change,” although how quickly and how peacefully is impossible to predict.
Because Solovey has made similarly apocalyptic predictions in the past, his interviewer, Vladislav Gorin, challenges him on this occasion to explain why what he said in the past had not proven true and why he believes that his predictions for the future now are likely to be borne out by events.
Solovey’s response is that often people have ascribed to him positions he did not in fact take but that were suggested by the headlines under which his comments ran and that now, the situation in Russia has developed along the lines he has been expecting and that, as a result, he is convinced that the country is entering an endgame as far as the current regime is concerned.
One of the triggers for radical change, he suggests, is the growing size of protests and the increasing reluctance of the frontline personnel of the siloviki to engage in the kind of repressive actions that their political bosses want, especially since they know that the siloviki rather than the politicians will be blamed if things go wrong.
Solovey argues that the recent use of force against Moscow demonstrators in the case of Ivan Golunov does not undercut his assertion. It was simply the case that in this instance, the number of protesters was too small to frighten the police at least to the point that they would disobey their own bosses.