How do we cope with a post-Putin Russia?

Financial Review presents a provocative article by Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Putin spin doctor, on the workings of the current Kremlin decision-making apparatus and its inadequacies:

Russia, to Mr Pavlovsky, is driven not by a search for external power but by internal weakness — a lack of vision for its impending post-Putin existence. Mr Putin has successfully made any political alternative unthinkable, and his entire country is now trapped by his success. In other words, Mr Putin’s enormous popular support is a weakness, not a strength — and Russia’s leaders know it.

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Deprived of a vision for the future, Russian elites are tempted by conspiracy theories and apocalyptic pronouncements. As Aleksandr A. Prokhanov, a writer and leading voice of Russian imperial nationalists, lamented, the elites know that if they attempt a Perestroika II, they will fail. Better, he said, to provoke another world war than try to dismantle Mr Putin’s designs.

Reading Mr Pavlovsky’s book, one realises that what is totally absent in the Western analyses of today’s Russia is this “end of the world” mentality among Mr Putin’s political and intellectual elites. In Mr Pavlovsky’s view, the experience of the catastrophic collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than geopolitical interests or values, is the key for understanding Russia’s strategic behaviour and the inner logic of Mr Putin’s regime.

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