Sunday, December 29, 2019

Putin Regime Will Last as Long as Its Creator is Alive But Not Much Longer, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 27 – The Putin regime shows no signs of approaching its end and indeed has come through a period of turbulence that is now over, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. As a result, the personalist dictatorship of its creator will last as long as he lives, possibly into the 2030s. But with his passing, it will pass away and very quickly as well.

            Many are currently suggesting that the Putin regime is showing signs of aging and even potential collapse, the Russian economist says. But in fact after winning support from the population for boosting incomes before 2012, it has used patriotism to survive without growth (

            “Since 2012 and even more since 2014,” Inozemtsev continues, “Russia has learned to live without growth,” and despite expectations, this stagnation has not produced the risings that would threaten the regime. Indeed. Today, it is possible to say that “the period of turbulence and encountering with earlier unknown factors largely remains in the past.” 

            According to the Russian economist, “the population has made its peace with the absence of prospects for growth and reams now only that ‘there won’t be a war.’  The most dissatisfied elements to an incrreasing degree ‘are packing their bags.’ [And] those who are especially active ‘protesters’ are experiencing the power of the repressive regime.”

            At the same time, he continues, “big business remains loyal to the powers that be and only seeks to export a certain amount of liquid means abroad as a form of insurance.” Consequently, “the stopping of economic growth will not become a cause of destabilization” and Putin “will not leave his high government post voluntarily.”

            Sanctions are unlikely to increase significantly and even if they do gradually do so, Inozemtsev says, the authorities will be able to nullify their negative impact by patriotic demagogy.” And even if there are mass demonstrations, they “will not be able to destabilize  the powers” since the latter will repress them with increasing severity.

            And those factors that some see as a serious threat – such as official corruption – are of interest to only a very small portion of the population. Therefore, Inozemtsev says in summation, “I do not see objective causes for the destabilization of the regime on the horizon in the coming decade.”  

            Of course, there are factors that could change this, but none of them is likely. Putin could move to thoroughgoing Stalinist methods of rule and make the bureaucracy feel completely insecure.  Oil prices could fall and stay low for some time. Or the Kremlin leader could launch an attack on another country that the West would feel compelled to respond to.

            Moreover, while Putin sometimes says thinks that suggest he is losing his ability to assess what is going on, Inozemtsev says, “since 2014, not one response to his actions has been unexpected for the authorities of Russia.”

            Consequently, the only limiting factor on the Putin regime is the lifespan of its creator.  He will not live forever, and there is “practically no chance that his system will be preserved after [his death].”  There are several reasons for that conclusion, the Russian economist continues.

            First among them is that the economic situation in the country is likely at that point to be “much worse than today,” creating demands for rapid change. No one who replaces him will be able to continue his policies for very long, and thus “the compass of Russian history inevitably will swing toward democratization and rapprochement with the West.”

            But even more important as a source of change after his passing is that his system is not based on any hierarchy but rather on a congeries of elites and individuals near the throne whom Putin regulates as “’a stabilizer.’”  In his absence, no one will be able to continue to rule as he has and the current ruling elite will rapidly disintegrate.

            And so there is reason for long-term optimism, Inozemtsev says, but he notes that all this may not happen as quickly “as many would like.” 

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