JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin’s New Orchestra; The players are being rearranged, but the conductor remains the same” – New York Times/ Ivan Krastev

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… The timing and the nature of the constitutional amendments make it clear that … Putin perceives his regime as in crisis and is doubtful about the continued viability of a system of personal rule when he is no longer around. He knows perfectly well that what his apologists trumpet as political stability is in reality … stagnation … that popular support for the regime is in decay. It is quite possible that last summer’s protests … and the growing apathy of his supporters impelled the president to offer reform proposals and ask that any changes be legitimized by popular vote. It won’t come as a shock if the referendum coincides with early parliamentary elections … starting the power transition this year. … [O]ne cannot escape the sense that he is haunted by … the sclerotic and impotent leadership of the Soviet Union in … waning years. … [which] led to crime, economic decline and chaos. Russians remain scarred by it … Putin cannot allow his people to see themselves returning to life under a stagnating and aging elite. …”

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[featured image is file photo from another occasion]