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Response to Soph0571 (Original post)

Tue Feb 18, 2020, 06:42 PM

4. Look to Putin

If you want to predict what Trump might do, look to Russia and Putin.

This is from a New Yorker article from January 23, 2020 called "How Putin Controls Russia." In it, Isaac Chotiner interviews author Masha Lipman, a political analyst and author who writes extensively about Putin's grip on the state.

The context is Putin's sweeping changes to the Russian constitution, made in January 2020. Here are four paragraphs that give you a sense of what Caligula II may have in mind for his "reign."

Paragraph 1:
"Putin rarely consults with anyone, and, even if he does, it is done in a totally opaque way. He’s rarely explicit. Even if he consults with some people in his circle, people leave without having a clear idea of what his goal is and have to guess. Sometimes they guess right. Sometimes they guess wrong. Sometimes they try to curry favor and succeed, sometimes not. At the end of the day he is the ultimate decision-maker. And the strategy and the grand plans that he has for Russia, in their entirety, exist only in his mind."

Paragraph 2:
"He is way more sophisticated than to just say, “I rule by diktat and whatever I say is the law,” even if in practice it often is this way. He already was facing this dilemma back in 2008, when the constitution required that he step down after two consecutive terms as President. And he was so popular at the time—his approval rating was above eighty per cent. He could have changed the constitution easily and said, “I’m President for life,” which was something that his colleagues in some of the former Soviet republics had done before him. But he wanted to look more, I don’t know, European. He wanted to look more democratic. He wanted to maintain the appearance of being engaged in a procedural democracy. So he actually did step down but remained in charge. He figured out the configuration in which he anointed his very loyal colleague, Dmitry Medvedev, as President, and he himself took the office of the Prime Minister. So on the surface, on the formal levels, he did step down as the constitution requires. But he remained informally in charge, and “informally” means a great deal more sometimes in Russia than the formal institutions do. But he still kept the appearance of democratic legitimacy. And I think he cares about that."

Paragraph 3:
"In 2011 and 2012, the economic growth slowed down. He could no longer deliver as generously as he had before. And, also in 2011 and 2012, he faced mass public protests. That was the first important turning point, when, actually having faced the challenge of mass protests, he tilted the balance quite strongly in favor of control and away from national development and economic growth. And this tilt became even stronger in 2014, when he made arguably the riskiest move in his whole career and annexed Crimea. This came at a cost, of course, of Western sanctions and a slowdown of the economy. And again he sacrificed those goals for the sake of control within and the concept of sovereignty abroad, which Putin thinks should be totally unbound. Nobody should be able to dictate to Russia what to do. Nobody should be able to bend its will and to bend its policy."

Paragraph 4:
"Was he anti-liberal? Well, as far as the economy was concerned, during his first term, and I would say his second term, no. Was he anti-Western? Partly so, but Russia still remained quite open. And, if we talk about the media, Putin moved very early in his first Presidential term to take the national television channels under his control. He did this with by far the largest media outlets with the largest audience, but he wouldn’t interfere with niche media or liberal media, allowing them to preach to the converted, and operate reasonably freely, to the extent that they did not stir unwanted passions among the broader public. Following the protests in 2011 and 2012, niche liberal media for the first time came under pressure. I would not say this was horrible pressure. People who worked there were not terribly harassed. But they were manipulated. There were a variety of ways Putin was acting, mostly through the owners of those media outlets rather than persecuting or prosecuting individual editors or journalists."

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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Soph0571 Feb 2020 OP
geardaddy Feb 2020 #1
handmade34 Feb 2020 #2
mountain grammy Feb 2020 #17
CaptainTruth Feb 2020 #24
handmade34 Feb 2020 #25
onecaliberal Feb 2020 #26
MarcA Feb 2020 #3
pazzyanne Feb 2020 #21
LineReply Look to Putin
jayschool2013 Feb 2020 #4
OMGWTF Feb 2020 #8
essme Feb 2020 #15
czarjak Feb 2020 #20
2naSalit Feb 2020 #10
live love laugh Feb 2020 #5
Hermit-The-Prog Feb 2020 #6
notinkansas Feb 2020 #9
OMGWTF Feb 2020 #7
Evolve Dammit Feb 2020 #11
IggleDuer Feb 2020 #16
flamin lib Feb 2020 #12
handmade34 Feb 2020 #22
BigmanPigman Feb 2020 #13
mountain grammy Feb 2020 #19
handmade34 Feb 2020 #23
ashredux Feb 2020 #14
Joinfortmill Feb 2020 #18
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