Thursday, May 5, 2022

After Putin’s Departure or Defeat in War, Russia will Experience a New 1956, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 24 – Russian history moves from one extreme to another, Vladimir Pastukhov says; and the further it is pushed in one direction, such as the authoritarianism of Stalin or Putin, the further it will move in the opposite one, either after the dictator passes from the scene or is defeated in a war.

            This pattern has been repeated again and again, the London-based Russian analyst says; and thus there is ever reason to think that if Putin loses a war or passes from the scene by ouster or death, it will happen again. Consequently, once again, the country will face the problem it faced in 1956 (

            The only questions now are when that triggering event will occur and how long the period between it and a new 1956 will be.

            “As long as the dictator is alive, the movement of the pendulum from one extreme to another begins extremely rarely” – unless there is a military defeat – but with his departure, “holding the pendulum in its extreme position will become very difficult.” And both elites and the population will go through the experience of its move in the opposite direction.

            “Sooner or later,” Pastukhov says, “a new 20th Congress will occur in Russia, and some bold successor will tell a silent hall, first behind closed doors, about the earlier leader’s mistakes and delusions, and a little later but loudly and for everyone to hear, he will talk more broadly about all these crimes against the Russian people.”

            Initially, it will be hard for a population that has been stripped of its ability to think critically to accept this new version of reality. But they will figure things out more quickly than many now think. What is necessary now is to think carefully abut how we will tell ourselves and our descendants about what happened.

            If we fail to do so, Pastukhov concludes, “Comrade Stalin-Putin will remain in Russia for a long time.” But certainly not forever, and when the change comes this time, it is likely to be as radical as if was in 1956, something both Putin and all other Russians should be reflecting upon even now.

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