I know there are readers out there who are highly anticipating the follow up to the last post, “Something for Everyone.” The problem is that my timetable is highly variable and as of late doesn’t permit me to put the kind of time into it as would be necessary. That’s just not the kind of article you bang out in ninety minutes. I wanted to give you, the readers, at least something for the first half of this week, so I found this rather balanced article.
I see only one major problem with it. The premise of the article is that Putin is done for politically because he has caused damage to the base of oligarchs whom he serves. The problem is that oligarchical control in Russia is a bit different than it was in the past. Putin still has the ability to smack down a few of these billionaires if they get to unruly, as in supporting some kind of opposition movement as in the author’s hypothesis. There’s another layer to Putin’s base which, while being neither extremely rich nor famous, can neutralize a certain number of rebellious oligarchs before they can become much of a problem. That is why I think if these oligarchs see conflict with Putin coming on the horizon they are most likely to simply leave the country rather than stay and try to oust him by funding some kind of Maidan-style movement.
There is another angle to this one flaw as well, namely that at the moment, there is nobody to replace Putin except maybe Medvedev again, and adorable as Medvedev is, there is always the danger of him being carried away to Isengard by a pack of orcs. This sounds like a pro-Putin campaign slogan, but it is actually true because he made it so. After so many years in this country it hit me that opposition leaders like Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov don’t really spend time thinking about what they’d do if they managed to get elected president. While this article insinuates that Putin has lost touch with reality, he’s most likely the only powerful person in Russian politics who at least had some connection to reality, and who can be brought back to his senses. The fact that nobody in Russia can adequately replace Putin in the foreseeable future is a separate question from how he leaves power, and even if he does kick the political con-men “advisers” to the curb and returns to the real world, this fact won’t automatically change. Do I need to explain why this is a bad thing, seeing that a lack of Putin would lead to a power vacuum which could be filled by someone far worse? Russia’s “intelligentsia” is jam-packed with fascist, reactionary wannabe tsars who would just love to impose their will on the populace, whom they see as cattle.
Anyway, other than the author’s wishful thinking, I think the article is rather sober and balanced. Go read it.