Monday, November 6, 2023

After Putin, Russia will Pass Through a Phase of ‘Feudal Fragmentation’ that Won’t Lead to Disintegration Unless Someone Tries to Restore Unity, El Murid Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 4 – Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name El Murid, says that the heads of Russia’s regions are becoming increasingly active and that they will play an even larger role after Vladimir Putin leaves the scene, ushering in a period of “feudal fragmentation” but unlikely one that will lead to the disintegration of the country.

            The regional “bosses” now in place are “extremely careful” unlike the more independent and flamboyant figures Putin has displaced; and as such, they aren’t likely to take the kind of radical steps some are suggesting, the blogger continues. But they are interested in protecting what they have and thus will act accordingly (

            And that provides some important clues as to what will happen when Putin leaves the scene. As a personalist dictator, Putin has balanced the complex interests of various groups to keep himself in power. When he is no more, others will try to fill that position; and they will do so in predictable ways.

            At first, they will try to “come to an agreement among themselves within a single space” since “nobody needs any sudden steps” because “the same rule will apply then as applies now” – “you can gain a little but you can lose everything.” Consequently, politicians at the center and the regions will first seek some agreement under a single leader the bosses think they can control.

            Sometimes that works but sometimes the person installed in the top job turns the tables on the elites and they find themselves subjected to a new personalist dictatorship, El Murid continues. But if that doesn’t happen – and the complexity of Russia makes it less likely – then “a phase of feudal fragmentation looks almost inevitable.”

            This period “will not necessarily be accompanied by the formal collapse of the country, but nonetheless will happen quite quickly.” The reason is simple: “territorial patrimony is the only mechanism for preserving the resources that are available.” And various territorial groups will cooperate on the basis of their unique resources.

            And here El Murid makes his most important point: There will not be a civil war in Russia unless someone is “tempted to restore the integrity of Russia” and takes action to do so. If that doesn’t happen, Russia could exist with a kind of indeterminate feudalism for some time to come.

            That conclusion, the analyst says, doesn’t mean there won’t be violence or even rebellions. Those are likely. “But as Prigozhin’s rebellion showed, such events alone will end in nothing” and should not distract attention from the course toward a dispersed feudalism now going on.

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