Staunton, July 3 – Re-Sovietization is taking place, Yevgeny Trifonov says, “but it is a parody of the original” which may be horrific but won’t cease to be a parody and thus will generate laughter and shame. “But that is its weakness.” The original was backed by “legions of fanatics who could believe because their faith was “strictly logical and not contradictory.” But what Vladimir Putin is promoting has many of the structures but none of the logic and faith, the Russian commentator says. “No one is going to go into battle for the uniqueness of Russian civilization because that notion is anything but convincing.” No one can believe it except for fools ( Under the banners of today, “instead of iron

Staunton, July 11 – It is often said that there is no division of power in Russia, but that is not strictly true. While there isn’t the division between legislative, executive and judicial authority that is the basis of political arrangements in the West, there is an essential division between the supreme power and the bureaucracy, Vladimir Pastukhov says. The London-based Russian analyst says that during the recent debates on constitutional reform far too much attention has been devoted to the extension of Vladimir Putin’s time in office and far too little to two other vastly more important aspects of the Russian political system ( On the one hand, most have ignored that the 1993

Staunton, July 9 – Vladimir Putin wants the three Baltic countries to become Russian protectorates; and now that he has won the right to stay in power for decades, he is no longer constrained and will take dangerous risks to achieve that, Vladimir Yushkin, head of Tallinn’s Baltic Centre for Russian Studies, says. From the Kremlin leader’s perspective, the British protectorate over Eastern Europe has become the American protectorate; but the presence of ethnic Russian compatriots and Russian citizens means that he “will insist that this protectorate be joint” and that Moscow has the right to engage in “humanitarian intervention” ( According to the Tallinn scholar, Putin’s strategy rests on the assumption that those around US President Donald Trump are not prepared to challenge Putin on this and that the US won’t, in the words of former

Staunton, July 6 – Vladimir Putin’s drive to make Russia ever more authoritarian and centralized has prompted his opponents to think how a democratic and decentralized Russia might look. Some are even proposing the creation of “a United States of Russia,” but the further disintegration of the space Russia occupies is far more likely, Igor Yakovenko says. People ranging from Grigory Yavlinsky of Yabloko to director Vladimir Mirzoyev are calling for the transformation of Russia into a single, United States. The latter is especially instructive in this regard, the Russian commentator says; and he summarizes Mirzoyev’s thought in this way ( A United States of Russia, the director says, is a way for “the peaceful coexistence of ‘two peoples,’ the modern and the archaic. They must not pull each other, neither backwards no forwards. The country is enormous and empty and there is space for everyone. Let us

Staunton, July 7 – The current economic crisis sparked by the collapse of oil prices and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is having the same effect in many countries that the onset of the great depression had in the 1930s, Sergey Pereslegin says, pushing them towards a Mussolini-style “corporate state” or fascism. The Russian futurologist says that what happened across Europe in the 1930s is likely to be repeated given the depth of the current crisis. Then, Russia was insulated from that because of communism; but now, it is likely to be very much part of this trend ( His prediction is particularly interesting because Pereslegin,

Staunton, May 5 – Because of the communist ideology they absorbed while growing up, the ruling circles of Russia today really do not understand what national interests are or have any particular interest in being patriotic, attitudes that put them at odds with elites in most other countries and the populations at large in most, Sergey Volkov says. Periodically, the Moscow historian says, Russian officials talk about the need to “’nationalize’” the elites, making it more difficult for them to move money around and thus more attached to the country; but such efforts founder because these fear are “far from being devoted to nation state interests.” It could hardly be otherwise, Volkov suggests, because while there are exceptions, the ruling stratum consists of people who were largely part of the Soviet nomenklatura. And those over 45, the majority, were raised in ways intended to make them opponents of the ideals of

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