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Oct 8, 2021
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“Putin was handsome only for the first two terms”

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Kremlin Pool / Global Look Press)

On the birthday of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin representatives of political elites and functionaries of the vertical of power, naturally, did not skimp on grandiloquent congratulations to the head of state. As a result, very interesting comparisons and epithets were born.

However, one of the most epic, perhaps, statements on this day was again noted by the author of the already talked-of-the-town phrase “there is Putin – there is Russia, there is no Putin – there is no Russia”, Chairman of the State Duma Viacheslav Volodin

On the morning of October 7, in his telegram channel, for a start, he considered it necessary to remember what path our country had traveled since the beginning of the presidency of Vladimir Vladimirovich. “The war in the Caucasus, the threat of terrorism, devastation and economic decline after the collapse of the USSR and the irresponsible actions of politicians in the 90s are not some distant history, but the real state of affairs in our country before Vladimir Putin,” he said, adding that in those days we were losing the lives of our citizens and were close to losing the country, “but the election of Putin as head of state radically changed this sad situation.

“Today everyone recognizes that Putin is Russia’s advantage,” the State Duma chairman summed up categorically.

Bearing in mind that as recently as September of this year. Vladimir Putin himself said that citizens have reason to criticize the Russian government, including himself, “SP” asked political analysts: “Isn’t this statement too obsequious, taking into account the fact that even the best and your shortcomings? “

– I would not talk about the “advantage” -Putin, as a kind of constant, – shared with “SP” the vision of the contribution of the guarantor of the Constitution to the fate of Russia political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin… – Undoubtedly, the first two terms, in the “pre-Medvedev period”, Vladimir Putin was, one might say, just handsome. Moreover, he even admitted it Khodorkovsky, who spent most of that time in prison, arguing that if Putin left the presidency immediately after his first two presidencies, he would undoubtedly go down in Russian history as its most effective leader over the past two hundred years.

Because under Putin at that time, there was political stability in Russia and quite powerful, rapid macroeconomic growth. However, it is important to note that, in the opinion of many respected political analysts, this is not entirely a “pure” merit of Putin as a political figure.

All this, in their opinion, was largely a consequence of those very first bourgeois reforms of the “dashing nineties”, when private property finally appeared, when the currency became freely convertible, when at the very least, the market economy started working, reorienting production to effective demand, and not what the “party and government” wanted. Simply put, the economy has grown steadily under the Prime Minister Primakov, and under the prime minister Kasyanovand under Prime Minister Putin.

So, Putin the President received economic growth almost in finished form. But since, for the most part, people are accustomed to thinking in terms of “this is how it was with Brezhnev, like this – at Gorbachev, but like this – under Putin ”, then the success of the beginning of the 2000s is credited to Vladimir Vladimirovich.

SP: – And now, it turns out, our current president will not enter the historical annals with the regalia of the “best manager”?

– I don’t think so. Because in all his subsequent presidencies, Russia demonstrates the opposite processes. Yes, there is still some stability under him, but, in fact, this is where it all ends, because economic growth has stopped, Russia’s international positions, especially after 2014, have deteriorated dramatically and rapidly. The country began to plunge into isolation and is now perceived on the world stage more as a toxic state than as an equal partner of the international community.

But the most important thing, in my opinion, is that over the past few years almost all fundamental state institutions have been discredited – parliamentarism, independent judiciary, democratic elections and freedom of the press. All this provokes a rapid growth of mistrust among the population. As far as I know, the data of a number of opinion polls show that about half of Russians absolutely do not believe, or rather do not believe, that, for example, the last elections were held fairly.

Public opinion is, of course, not some absolute indicator, it does not divide the actions of the head of state into groups – this is good, this is bad. But the Russians see what is happening around. They look at prices in stores, they look into their wallets, they watch TV, they compare, they draw certain conclusions. And against this background, the rating of the president among the people abruptly creeps down. If after the “Crimean Spring” the level of people’s love for Putin was, according to various sources, about 86%, then to date, according to, for example, the Levada Center *, which I trust, it fluctuates at around 53%. still more than half, but the remaining 47%, it turns out, do not feel unconditional love for the president, and this is only slightly less than half.

In addition, you need to understand that, having received from the hands of the president Yeltsin a much more effective political economy machine than under Brezhnev or even under Stalin – with analysts-economists, with a strong and independent parliament, which, for example, was able to prohibit President Yeltsin from dismissing the prosecutor general SkuratovaPutin, in the end, reduced everything, in fact, to a pseudo-Soviet one-party system.

At the same time, Vladimir Vladimirovich practically crushed our entire Russian federalism. Even though he was frankly weak, he nevertheless worked. And its optimization to the conditional model “one center – one boss”, although it greatly simplified the model of state governance, but greatly impeded the effective development of territories, with which Russia, by the way, has always had problems.

If he remains in the presidency after 2024, these trends will continue to gain momentum, which will finally discredit the main state institution – the people’s confidence in the government through democratic elections. And in this sense, Putin is unlikely to remain in the people’s memory as the most effective leader of the country. Rather, in my opinion, he now has much more chances to remain in history as a kind of analogue of “dad” Lukashenka, who created in Russia, as in present-day Belarus, a regime that is very good only for those who sit “at the top”.

– For 20 years of his reign, the president himself has built such a system in which he is both her main demiurge and her first victim, – summed up Doctor of Political Science and Candidate of Economic Sciences, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Sergei Obukhov… – This system will be able to self-adjust only if, for example, normal elections are ensured in the country and the judicial system is properly functioning. But none of this exists in our country, except for the remnants of the former authority of Vladimir Putin himself hanging over this collective bureaucracy, and even those, as we see, are being eroded with all his “May”, “June” and other decrees.

“SP”: – In such and such a situation, how can the situation develop further? In a year or two, will the president’s political weight finally melt away? And then what?

– The experience of the past shows that the very process of losing political authority and weight happens almost simultaneously. For example, both Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin had all their political charisma burned out in just 4-5 months. It’s like a light bulb – at first it blinks, blinks, and then – once, and the thread is burnt out.

The question, of course, is not that Vladimir Putin after this will not be able to continue to remain in power, say, with 25-35% [народного одобрения]But Boris Yeltsin somehow managed to do it. The question is different – it will be completely different technologies, completely different relationships. Many people say that they do not want a repetition of the “dashing nineties”, but, as it seems to me, we risk eventually getting, though somewhat modified, but just those “dashing nineties”, we will not go anywhere.


* ANO Levada-Center is included by the Ministry of Justice in the register of non-profit organizations performing the functions of a foreign agent.

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