Staunton, July 3 – Most predictions about Russia’s future after Putin are based on the assumption that it will be something like that of the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin in 1953, Vladimir Pastukhov says. But in fact, it is almost certain that the degradation of the existing system will be even faster than was the case a half century ago.
The reason for that is not hard to see: Russia today lacks anything like the Politburo the Soviet Union had in the 1950s, a group of men who “stretched out” the transition from Stalinism to something else over more than a decade (svoboda.org/a/vladimir-pastuhov-ot-lyubvi-do-nenavisti-k-putinu-odin-shag-/32484021.html).
Thus, for example, the arrest of Beria took place “not immediately after Stalin’s death” but only three months later. The 20th Congress of the CPSU did not occur until two years after that. And then followed a series of internal coups: the suppression of the anti-party group, the removal of Zhukov, and Khrushchev’s own ouster.
Many like to think of the Khrushchev “thaw” as a stable period, but in fact, there were “four palace coups in a decade.” After Putin, Pastukhov says, the likelihood is that change will be even more rapid and lead to clashes, possibly violent ones, as a new leadership seeks to take control of the situation.
Pastukhov’s words are a not so implicit warning to Russians and the West that what is inevitably coming will be far more challenging for both that country and the world than almost anyone is now saying.