Letter From the Editors: Feb. 13 - 19, 2017

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

The Autumn of the Patriarch - Collapse of Old Alliances and Putin’s Political Fatigue

Commentators in Russia have been pulling out all the stops to keep the public’s tepid interest in the upcoming presidential election alive. That’s hardly surprising, given that Russia’s perennial regime has no surprises left. The fatigue is obvious - suffice it to recall that last week, Vedomosti reported that Donald Trump had eclipsed Vladimir Putin in the number of Russian media mentions.

This week, Konstantin Gaaze divides the various political camps in Russia into three groups - the loyalist "Hail Caesar!" party, which essentially sees Putin as a sort of divine ruler; the iron-fisted "Police State Russia"; and "Metasmart Russia," a sort of Russian geek squad more concerned about KPIs than political intrigue. All three are vying for Putin’s attention with competing platforms, and yet all have their own deep program flaws. So in keeping with current trends, the Russian president may just choose to stay the course after 2018. Gone are the days of reform-minded liberals like Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais, writes Gaaze. Instead, "Liberals no longer dream of major projects; their only concern is how to get through the day. So we can say without a hint of sarcasm that this seems to be the best option for Vladimir Putin’s fourth term."

Like an old timer who just wants to take a nap, the Putin regime seems to be closing in on itself.

Perhaps trying to stir up memories of Putin’s glorious fire-and-brimstone days, Russian media outlets this week marked the 10-year anniversary of the Russian president’s controversial Munich speech. On Feb. 10, 2007, Putin shocked and awed the West with his diatribe against a unipolar world, raging against everything from NATO’s eastward expansion to the US’s disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq. Eastern Europe panicked. Western Europe chafed at the idea that it was ...

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