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Putin, the Russian Elite, and the Future of Russia

Putin, the Russian Elite, and the Future of Russia

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Putin, the Russian Elite, and the Future of Russia

161 pages
1 hour
Jun 4, 2014


There is a dialectical logic to why an individual like Putin came to power in Russia. His policies in the past were controversial at best, but now, after the annexation of Crimea and turmoil in Ukraine, Russia’s future is not expected to be bright. Why do Russia’s leaders always seem embroil the country in one conflict after another?
Every nation has a character—the sum of its temperament, values, traditions, and mindset—that explains its history and its present, and helps define its future. It provides the foundations of social life, both for individuals and the whole society. In this thoughtful monograph, the author traces how this character has shaped the evolution of Russia, with a particular focus on how the ruling “elite” has led the country from one disaster to another.
The book explores a conspicuous phenomenon: Russia has always had the wrong people in power. These people, incapable of making decisions based on logic or wisdom, have invariably chosen paths that lead either to terror or to other forms of oppression. This work is an attempt to answer three questions: Why? What is wrong with the nation? And why it is always in the wrong hands?
Readers will also learn why terror in Russia was inevitable after World War I, regardless of who assumed the power, the Reds or the Whites. The author analyses the mechanics of the leadership selection process, designed to concentrate power at the top with the “elite” echelon, and its effect on the country’s governance since Lenin’s regime. This includes an objective look at why and how Putin ascended to power, and outlines some of his successes—and reasons for his inevitable failure.
Supporting his arguments with statistics, the author shows demographic trends that have resulted in the depopulation of vast Russian territories, a shrinking of labour force, and a negative effect on economy. Statistics also present a picture of the deterioration of the nation’s integrity and sense of decency, as evidenced by the number of abandoned and homeless children, high rates of alcoholism and violent crime, and many other manifestations of the nation’s trouble mental and spiritual health.
The book provides some interesting data about the Russian army, including the price of its victories in the past and a comparison of its strength with the primary military powers of the twenty-first century. The author devotes serious analysis to the Crimea and Ukrainian crises, the Russian mob mentality, and on the country’s role in global political and economic affairs.
Examining Russia through the lens of character, the nation’s psychology and mentality, the author offers insights into the economic, political, and social evolution, and provides a somber view of the country’s near and the distant futures.

Jun 4, 2014

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Putin, the Russian Elite, and the Future of Russia - Alex Markman


This essay is not in a framework of political correctness. Instead, I tried to be as objective and unambiguous as I could, and therefore expect vicious attacks from left and right. I accept it as an inevitable destiny for anyone who tells the truth.

I begin this study with a few arguments in defence of Putin. I expect an outcry from those who put their destiny on the line to expose the corruption of his regime: rampant theft and population plunder by government officials; absence of justice, law, and order; political oppression; and uncountable other crimes and sins. I believe that there is no need to reference a particular work or document confirming their arguments, as information is in abundance on the Internet, in official statistics, and in periodicals. I assure you though that the issues of both Putin’s personality and his policies are not as simple as they look at first glance.

The core problem of Russia is not a particular personality, if we consider a period longer than an average human life. Personalities do play a significant role in Russian history, but not as much as some contemporary thinkers suggest. All countries’ leaders have to deal with the people of their country, be they dictators or democrats. No doubt Churchill, Hitler, Roosevelt, or Stalin, strong personalities in their times, would not do much if they were leaders of Haiti, Congo, or Zimbabwe. I am sure that Stalin would not be able to become a Great Britain dictator, and Roosevelt would not be able to become a great democrat in Russia. Every nation has particular characteristics that make it behave the way it does.

I can illustrate this thought in a particularly vivid example. At the beginning of World War II, Stalin ordered the relocation of all colonies of Germans—approximately two million people living by the Volga River—to Ural, Siberia, and other remote, inhospitable locations. It was winter, and nothing was prepared for Germans to survive, let alone to settle. It took many years for those people to rebuild their lives from scratch. After they did, however, any stranger could easily have distinguished those German villages from those elsewhere in Russia. The Germans had built decent houses, paved roads, and nice, clean agricultural facilities, whereas Russian villages had distinct features of decay: dirt roads that shot clouds of dust after any passing vehicle, unkempt children playing everywhere, old houses hardly suitable for living, and population that were generally drunk at night. Both groups had the same government above them; the same communist rules, regulations, and order; and the same taxes and restrictions. What was possible and desirable for one people, however, was impossible and unnecessary for another. In the long run, it is a nation that is collectively responsible for its deeds and history.

How to Read This Work

I have used mostly Russian sources: all citations are my translations from Russian, unless I explicitly mention a translator.

A superscript number (#) refers to the source of information or citation, which you can find on the last page of this work.

I often place the word elite in quotation marks. To me, this word means a collection of the best people in a field, be it literature, art, technology, or politics. In the past one hundred years, there were only a few people, if any, in the Russian top layer of society who were qualified for such respect.

Breaking from the Past

A country’s present is always a product of the past. It is mandatory to view the present through the prism of history, which is why I chose to start this work by comparing Putin’s regime with the regimes of the other leaders of Russia since the October Revolution of 1917.

For comparison I chose three criteria: political freedom, freedom of business activity, and population welfare. I will not offer the reader many numeric measurements of these factors, as they have been the subjects of voluminous studies for many years. Instead I will offer just a few indicators, as I believe that they, along with common sense and some knowledge of history, are sufficient to substantiate my arguments. For those who are interested in more information about the subject, plenty can be obtained via the Internet.

Vladimir Lenin

The first leader in the post revolutionary Russia—the Soviet Union, to be exact—was Vladimir Lenin. Few would question my assertion that Putin’s regime is much, much better than Lenin’s. Lenin was the architect of mass terror and the annihilation of Russia’s population. Even if we accept arguments that Putin is personally responsible for deaths of dozens or even hundreds of journalists, businesspeople, and others, those numbers hardly compare to the millions of murders and concentration camp deaths under Lenin’s regime.

Freedom of speech and democracy during the two regimes are also beyond compare. Under Lenin, the official policy was the dictatorship of proletariat. Its meaning is difficult to comprehend for the younger generation, but essentially it meant that any word—written or whispered—could be grounds for punishment by death if it was deemed wrong by commissars. Under Putin, the freedom of speech is an extant phenomenon, even though some attempts to restrict it are undertaken, and it is seen more as a privilege than a right.

The freedom of economic activity of the two periods also differed significantly. During Lenin’s regime, private property was abolished: all assets, personal and corporate, were confiscated; being rich, or better off than the majority of population, was considered a severe crime. There was a short period of limited business activity, called NEP—New Economic Policy—but that ended tragically for its participants. Even then, it was a far cry from the freedom of Putin’s regime.

Joseph Stalin

The second communist dictator was Joseph Stalin. His regime, even worse than Lenin’s, manifested a scale of brutality and senseless persecution of innocent people that had no precedent in history. Entrepreneurship was considered one of the worst political crimes. Poverty levels were appalling, and in many cities the critical living conditions were considered to be three or fewer square metres (thirty square feet) per person. Widespread hunger and shortages of just everything were the signature of the epoch. There is no doubt that people are faring much better under Putin’s regime than people fared under Stalin.

Nikita Khrushchev

Stalin’s successor was Nikita Khrushchev. His period was dubbed as the thaw, but it was actually much better than that. Terror stopped. There were no political prisoners. A wrong word, uttered in private, was no longer a punishable offence. Measures were undertaken to improve living conditions of the population. White bread appeared in supermarkets.

However, notwithstanding some progress, the principles of internal and international Soviet politics remained the same as they had been under Stalin. There was no freedom of speech, private business activity was considered as a serious crime, and living conditions remained very poor for the general population. Again, few would dispute that the average Russian fares better under Putin’s regime than the people under Khrushchev.

Leonid Brezhnev

After Khrushchev came Leonid Brezhnev as leader. During Brezhnev’s regime, repression of dissent became notably stronger, private initiative was persecuted, and living standards remained stagnant. Under Brezhnev the Soviet Union economy was steadily rolling down. People are faring better under Putin’s regime than did the people under Brezhnev.

Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko

There is not much to compare in the regimes of either Yuri Andropov or Konstantin Chernenko: each one was in the office for just a few months, and changed nothing.

Mikhail Gorbachev

The next, and the last, leader of the Soviet Union was Mikhail Gorbachev. A master of half-measures, with his irresolute novelties he brought the country to the verge of collapse. It could have been a developing nation, like China, but neither he nor his team had enough combined intellect and resolution to implement workable reforms. The result was the so-called Perestroika (restructuring or rebuilding)

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