Monday, October 31, 2022

Of the Four Putins on Display at Valdai, Only the Fourth – the One Offended that the West Won’t Treat Him as an Equal – Really Matters, Pastukhov Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 31 – At Valdai, Vladimir Putin offered four different versions of himself -- the religious fanatic who believes in the inevitable death of the West and the special role for Russia, the hardened cynic, the cunning Asiatic ruler, and an individual offended and even deeply wounded by the West’s unwillingness to treat him as an equal, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            Only this last Putin is the real one and has “real significance for an understanding of what is happening now,” the London-based Russian analyst says, an understanding which involves the recognition that Putin’s war in Ukraine became inevitable when he and his St. Petersburg team “took control of Russia 20 years ago” (

            In his speech and elsewhere, Putin has presented a semi-plausible and semi-convincing picture of the current crisis of Western liberal and democratic values. But he is less specific when it comes to his preferred alternative, offering instead “a kind of eclectic, half-Bolshevik, half-Black Hundreds utopia on which he has placed the label of traditional Christian values.”

            But on closer examination, the analyst continues, it is clear that Putin’s words are nothing more than a cover for what is his real alternative to European liberal values. Those are “the values of ‘gangster Petersburg” and that means he wants to promote not traditional values but criminal ones.

            Unlike Stalin or Mao, Putin did not initially want to be at odds with the West. He wanted to become part of the West rather than remaining outside but at the same time be accepted for what they were rather than being forced to change. Ultimately, the West rejected that offer; and Putin and his team are offended and hurt.

            “It isn’t that the West didn’t know about the language of crime,” Pastukhov says. In reality, “there aren’t many differences between the mores of Putin’s court and those of the Medicines or the Borgias.” But since then, the West has changed, reducing the sway of criminality and corruption even if it has not eliminated either altogether.

            When the West rejected Putin and his team via the Magnitsky Act, the St. Petersburg mafia, “humiliated and offended by the West’s unwillingness to accept them as part of their family, decided “to destroy the Paradise they wanted to join but that had now become inaccessible.”

            According to Pastukhov, “the crusade of ‘fallen angels’ of Russian Westernism against their creed is the most adequate description of the ideological meaning of the current war,” a war that is not so much a war of “Russia against the West” but of “the St. Petersburg elites who have crushed Russia and against the West that has offended them.”


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