Friday, May 10, 2024

Barring a Defeat in Ukraine, Putin isn’t Going to Change Course or Be Overthrown, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 8 – Putin “constantly lies but despite that he is one of the most predictable politicians” of his time, Sergey Shelin says, precisely because he does not have any fixed goals besides eliminating any opposition to himself, maintaining the consonance he has with the opinions of most Russians, and by so doing increasing his own power.

            Because of his success in all three areas, the independent Russian commentator says, there is no reason to think that, barring a major defeat in Ukraine, he is going to be overthrown  or somehow become a reformer (

            Putin did not come to power with any agenda beyond ensuring that no one would get in the way of what he wanted to do at any particular time. He has created an elite around him that does not feature anyone prepared to challenge him, and he has demonstrated again and again that he has a good feeling for what the Russian people will agree to and thus has their support.

            The only time that he suffered a major pushback from the population was when he declared partial mobilization; and in response, Putin has done everything he can to avoid having to declare such a policy in the future, something that acts as a constraint on his ability to engage in a larger war, however bombastic his comments may be.

            But even if he is quite willing to modify specific policies to protect himself and boost his power, Shelin argues, Putin is not prepared to follow Gorbachev and launch any broad reforms precisely because he remains firmly convinced that any such approach would not only lead to his loss of power but to the destruction of Russia.

            In sum, the commentator argues, Putin’s time in power has shown him “how much he can afford. He has no experience of failures in imposing anything on the country – everything has always worked out on the domestic front.” His only fears are about the West which he is firmly convinced wants to destroy him and his Russia.

            Consequently, since coming to power a quarter of a century ago, the Kremlin leader “has moved in one direction, maximizing his power, avoiding unnecessary movements, not striving for revolutions, destroying everything in his way, and hoping to hold out at the top until he can hand over Russia to one of his secret children or grandchildren.”

            In this, Shelin concludes, “no other political doctrine is visible. The symbiosis of ruler and power turned out to be unpredictably strong, very beneficial for Putin, deeply corrupting for Russia, and extremely dangerous for the outside world.” And there are no signs that this situation is about to collapse unless or until he loses in Ukraine or somewhere else abroad. 


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