Monday, 3 February 2020

Putin Moves to Perpetual Control

Deck Chairs on Putin's Titanic 

What are we to make of Vlad the Impaler's re-arrangement of the deck chairs on his own personal Titanic?  It is hard to get beyond the initial cynical chortling over an aging fool trying to push back Father Time.

The failure of Vlad's authoritarian rule over Russia is made evident because he clearly cannot let go.  His most recent moves underscore this yet again.  The entire Russian Government has been made to resign.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a startling announcement on Wednesday that he and his entire government will resign to get out of President Vladimir Putin’s way as Putin rewrites the Russian constitution.  Putin seeks to add provisions that would allow him to remain in power indefinitely, although he might still have to forfeit the title of “president.”  [John Hayward, Breitbart]
So, what game is Putin playing?
  The goal, of course, is to have Putin continue with dictatorial powers.  That goal is easily achieved.  All one need do is rearrange a few chairs on the Titanic, while the grand ship sails on to ultimate self destruction. 
Critics of Putin’s constitutional changes speculated he would establish a new position for himself as party leader and permanent president of the security council he just appointed Medvedev to, or perhaps leader of the State Council, wielding power behind the scenes as the shadow boss of the nominal president. The Financial Times saw Putin following a path to permanent power resembling that taken by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. . . .

Market strategist Timothy Ash of Bluebay Asset Management theorized Putin is shaking up his government and proposing major changes to the constitution as a way of deflecting public anger and positioning himself as a grand reformer – which would indeed be similar to Xi Jinping’s road to power. 
Yet, the underbelly of this particular Titanic has a growing problem with decay and rust.  The present government is deeply unpopular in Russia.  Therefore, it seems likely that Putin wants to escape censure for incompetence and failure.  This will probably see him creating new political institutions, with fresh faces to sail them, while he continues to hire and fire at his pleasure.  In other words, this whole rearrangement is for the purpose of eliding the blame for corruption and failure, shovelling it off to those who formerly staffed the controlling politburos and committees.

Meanwhile Vlad sails on into new governance structures controlled by the same old boss.

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