Sunday, March 17, 2024

With War in Ukraine, Putin is Demolishing His Argument that Russia Can't Change and Become Democratic, Gallyamov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 12 – Putin has long justified his own authoritarianism by insisting that Russia has always had that tradition, but with his war against Ukraine, he has violated another Russian tradition, the belief in close ties between Russians and Ukrainians, and thus shown that as a result, everything, including democratization, is now possible, Abbas Gallyamov says.

            For most of his time in power, Putin’s formula that “’it has always been this way’” has served as an effective argument to gain public support for the Kremlin leader’s maintenance of the status quo, the former Putin speechwriter and now opposition commentator says ( reposted at

            But over the past two years, by launching an expanded war against Ukraine, Putin has undermined his own claims in this regard by challenging the equally widespread Russian notion that the Russian and Ukrainian people have always been friends and that a war between the two was inconceivable.

            Neither Putin nor his opponents yet recognize how these two things are related and how his actions in the latter case demolish his insistence in the former, Gallyamov suggests. But an examination of the causes of the French revolution provides a clue to just how intertwined these two things are.

            Alexis de Tocqueville, one of the most thoughtful historians of that conflict, notes that the French monarchy sowed the seeds of its own demise by destroying the regional parliaments, institutions that the French thought were just as ancient and just as unchangeable as the monarchy itself.

            After the king dispersed the parliaments both in Paris and in the regions, the French people concluded that everything, including a more democratic system, was possible. Something similar, Gallyamov argues, is  now possible in Russia today. And he draws that conclusion in dramatic language:

            “After the first Russian killed the first Ukrainian and the first Ukrainian killed the first Russian, nothing is impossible for Russians anymore” because “the conservative order” on which Putin has relied “no longer exists.”


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