Putin ‘Much Greater Problem’ for Russia than Coronavirus, Falling Oil Prices or War in Syria ‘Taken Together,’ Inozemtsev Says
(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 9, 2020)
Russia can cope with any of the challenges it faces, including the coronavirus, the sharp decline in oil prices, or the conflict in Syria, but it currently finds itself incapable of dealing with “the fatal inability of [Putin] to react to the situation and adapt his actions,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says.
As a result, the Russian economist and commentator argues, the Russian president “represents a much greater problem to Russia than the Chinese infection, declining prices for oil and the war in Syria taken together” (stress supplied) (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/191642?fcc). And that makes the discussion of the other threats it faces “senseless.”
A consensus has emerged in Russia that these three outside threats could destabilize the situation and leading all too many to believe they have no choice but to continue with the country’s current leadership and to turn their attention away from the domestic threat emanating from the Kremlin that has been doing so already for a long time.
“From the economic point of view,” Inozemtsev says, “nothing has happened which would significantly undermine its economy,” especially since in recent years Moscow has taken steps that make its domestic economy far less “susceptible to external shocks” than it was even 15 years ago. The Kremlin can absorb the current “shocks” for some time.
Sanctions may make the situation more difficult but not yet in a major way; and while some branches of the Russian economy – tourism and air travel – will be affected by the crisis, one must keep in mind that “in Russia they do not make the weather.” But there is one thing or more precisely one person that can – Vladimir Putin.
As so often he has been engaged in orchestrating various “happenings” such as the commemoration of Victory Day and the amending of the constitution, but what he has not done is to address the challenges to Russia that his own policies have created and that continue to grow in size.
Putin could have used the three crises coming from abroad as the occasion to change direction domestically, but he didn’t, preferring instead to focus on cosmetics rather than real changes, underestimating the intellectual failures and organizational impotence of his own command.”
As a result of his and their failings, “today we have certain strange texts of constitutional amendments written in the language of a half-literate schoolboy generalizing upon all the various phobias which have been formed in recent years in Russian ‘elites’ but which as is characteristic will not change anything of principle in the current spineless Constitution.”
“These amendments were invented by an illegally established group and will be imposed by illegitimate methods,” albeit in ways that the authorities will seek to give the patina of legitimacy by “unprecedented” falsification of the votes of Russians, Inozemtsev continues.
“The result will be a meaningless document which won’t interfere with Putin but won’t help him [or Russia] either.” Putin might have used the outside “threats” as the occasion to cancel this farce and also the farce of the celebration of Victory Day in Moscow’s Red Square. Neither would have been difficult, but given Putin, they are steps he won’t take.
As a result, he and not any of the things people are now focusing on will remain the largest threat to Russia on the horizon.
[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/utin-much-greater-problem-for-russia.html]