Saturday, February 13, 2021

Putin Can Survive Only by Isolating Russia from Outside World, ‘RusMonitor’ Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 11 -- Zintis Znotiš, an independent Latvian commentator who writes regularly for the RusMonitor portal, says that Putin has “consciously” chosen to put Russia on the path to self-isolation because that is the only way he understands that only by making his country into “a new version of North Korea” can he hope to remain in power.

            Like most dictators Putin has no issued official documents proclaiming his worst intentions, the RusMonitor commentator says. But it is clear from his actions what the Kremlin leader’s intentions are because all of them arise from his concerns about his political survival rather than from a desire to develop Russia (

            Putin’s regime rests on three foundations: the military, internal forces, and especially propaganda and agitation among the population. With regard to the first, Putin seeks to show or at least “to create the illusion that the Armed Forces of Russia are capable of conducting military actions at any level.”

            That of course requires him to spend money on the military in ever increasing amounts, money he extracts from the Russian population which like the Soviet one during the Cold War was reduced to penury in the name of the defense of the USSR and the cause of communism, Znotiš continues.

            For the time being, Putin can count on the army and on both segments of his domestic defense – the internal law enforcement agencies and the law-making bodies. The former remain loyal, “although Putin should remember the past” in which the officers in such agencies, being drawn from the population, may suddenly change size.

            Putin’s control of the law-making bodies is even greater given the overwhelming dominance of United Russia which declares in its founding documents that “its goal is to support the president. This means,” the commentator says, “Putin can be certain that the legislative system will work for him.”

            That leaves the issue of propaganda and agitation. For this foundation to remain firm, it must begin early in the lives of Russians so that they will absorb from childhood what is the correct position and it must seek to block alternative sources of information that could undermine the achievement of that goal.

            In service of the first goal, Putin has taken control of the mass media and now has introduced Soviet-style politruks into the schools to monitor and instruction the rising generation as to the proper views. That leaves the Internet, and not surprisingly Putin and his group are actively considering blocking its operation on the territory of the Russian Federation.

            The Kremlin has already discovered that “it is possible to control the Internet not completely” and this has led it to decide that “the Internet cannot be a problem if there is no Internet.”  Blocking it entirely would have enormous negative consequences for Russia but quite possibly positive ones for Putin – and that makes such a step increasingly likely, Znotiš says.

            If in fact Putin takes this step, he will by that alone reduce Russia’s standing on the ranking of press freedom among the countries of the world from 149th now to something approaching North Korea which ranks 180th, dead last among the countries that have been evaluated in terms of this measure.

            “It appears,” the commentator says, “that Putin wants Russia to become indistinguishable from its ideological sister,” North Korea. That won’t be good for Russia and her people, but it could be for Putin – and, like most authoritarian leaders, that and his remaining in power are the only things he cares about.  


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