Friday, May 29, 2020

Putin but not Russians ‘Main Force Behind Authoritarianism’ in Post-Soviet Space, Milov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 27 – Vladimir Putin is “the main force supporting authoritarianism on the post-Soviet space,” Vladimir Milov says; but the Russian people are not on his side in this and the Kremlin leader cannot intervene anywhere in which Russians would suffer major losses would cause him to lose even more backing at home.

            Indeed, the opposition Russian politician says, Putin’s rating has suffered precisely because his authoritarian approach is at odds with what Russians want for themselves. They ahead of anyone else will take the lead in promoting democracy across the region (

            “I do not think,” Milov tells the Kazakhstan portal, “that the Kremlin is seeking to restre something like the Soviet Union.” But Putin thinks in terms of spheres of influence and considers the post-Soviet space as properly and “exclusively” his and backs leaders who are as authoritarian as he is.

            But the ability of Putin to back them or to intervene massively on their behalf is distinctly limited, the Russian opposition figure says. He would be ready to do so if he could do it quickly and bloodlessly, but he is very much aware that Russians would turn away from him even more and come int the streets if he acted otherwise.

            Putin is careful and that is why he hasn’t escalated in Syria or Ukraine and why he won’t act in ways that would go beyond some notional short victorious war. At present, no such place is on the horizon. There is in short no obvious candidate for a second Crimean Anschluss, Milov continues.

            This des not mean that Putin won’t act quietly and behind the scenes t support authoritarians in the post-Soviet states because only they will support him.  Where there is democracy, the people and the governments have turned away from him as the Russian people are doing.

            Russians want democracy too, and Milov expresses confidence that “the new big wave of democratization on the post-Soviet space will begin from Moscow and from Russia,” reversing what is today “the main authoritarian impulse” for other regimes that do not allow their peoples to make decisions about their lives and futures.

            In a final appeal, he calls on non-Russians “not to write off Russia” because of what Putin has been doing. “We have a normal population, a normal people who want democracies and want to influence the decisions of those in power.”

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