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Putin Is Replaceable

Published: August 20, 2014 (Issue # 1825)




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Will Russia plunge intochaos anddarkness after President Vladimir Putin leaves? While its understandable that propaganda-brainwashed Russians might truly think so, it comes as asurprise when U.S. analysts repeat thesame idea.

Knowing theweakness ofthe liberal opposition andthe strength ofPutins security apparatus, its hard not tofear that his replacement will make us long forthe days ofhis thuggishly predictable unpredictability, warns Julia Ioffe onThe New Republic. If theU.S. gets rid ofPutin they will have no ability tocontrol what happens next, threatens Mark Adomanis onForbes.

Such pessimistic estimates, however, are hardly well grounded. Russias 140 million citizens should be capable ofreplacing their president with someone who isnt living in another world, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said ofPutin.

Theanalysts who are scared ofpost-Putin Russia usually raise thefollowing points: 1) Putin ruined all independent institutions andmade himself theonly arbiter ofpower. This will lead tochaos once he leaves theKremlin. 2) Putin is theonly constraint onRussias highly motivated andorganized nationalists, who will transform thecountry intoa fascist regime once he leaves. 3) Personalistic regimes are rarely followed bydemocratic systems, so whats thepoint ofreplacing apples with apples?

Lets consider those arguments step bystep.

First, its true that Putin has successfully set up anautocratic political system over thelast 15 years. Bydestroying opposition parties, putting their leaders under arrest andblocking popular mobilization, theKremlin has succeeded inlimiting theRussian populations interest inpolitics. Theresulting void between theauthorities andthe people has led tocomplete alienation between theelites andthe masses.

But Russia would not be lost tochaos if Putin disappeared. Instead, it would empower one ofthe more politically successful segments inRussian society today: theliberal white-collar opposition movement. No other social group inthe last 20 years has been remotely able tomobilize 100,000 to200,000 protest participants (as they managed in2011-12 protests), or the630,000 Muscovites who voted foropposition candidate Alexei Navalny during last years election forMoscow mayor.

Thevery demobilization ofmost ofRussian society is also aguarantee against theemergence ofnationalistic groups. Many Russians might repeat certain ideas they hear onthe television, but they wont stand up forthose ideas. Theswings inRussians public opinion onthe major issues prove that point. Forexample, thesupport formilitary invasion inUkraine dropped 20 percent fromFebruary toJune following thesoftening ofthe media propaganda discourse.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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