Staunton, June 22 – Vladimir Putin has published an article in Germany’s Die Zeit, one he personally wrote in German, the Kremlin says (kremlin.ru/events/president/news/65899
But two Moscow commentators with whom she spoke say Putin has his reasons for not publishing such articles, even if his failure to do so raises some larger questions that he undoubtedly would prefer that the Russian people and especially Russian elites not choose to raise.
Dmitry Zhuravlyev, head of the Moscow Institute of Regional Problems, says that one can hardly expect Putin to speak as much about domestic issues as foreign ones, especially on an anniversary like that of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. “He is president,” and in his mind, domestic issues are primarily the responsibility of others.
His spokesman pointed that out at the time of the pension reform discussion. Dmitry Peskov said pointedly “this is not an issue for the president.’ We have a prime minister. He is the one chiefly responsible for such things.” Putin will address them only when he is running for re-election or when there is a dispute within the elite, something he doesn’t like acknowledging.
And Nikolay Ponomaryev of the Moscow Center for Applied Research, says there is an even more compelling reason for Putin to focus on foreign affairs rather than on domestic ones. The Russian economy is dependent on exports and thus Moscow has to worry in the first instance about other countries, especially as the Kremlin doesn’t want to change the model.
If Putin were to begin to speak on domestic issues, he would be suggesting that something needs to be changed and that he has some kind of plan. Not only does he not have such a plan, but he doesn’t want to suggest otherwise lest he frighten members of the elite whose positions depend on there being no changes.
“The current model of socio-economic development,” Ponomaryov continues, “doesn’t permit any solution for the most serious problems of the state and society. But departing from it is tantamount to throwing overboard a large segment of the first-class passengers.” The Kremlin doesn’t want the problems that could cause.
As a result, Putin will continue to write articles for and about foreign countries on a regular basis, even in a foreign language; but he isn’t about to begin writing articles in Russian for Russians about domestic conditions. Even when they are not that bad such a step would not be in his interest even if many Russians would like to read them.