Lev Gudkov: The Nature of “Putinism”

An interesting, thoughtful, in-depth disquisition on the nature of “putinism,” presented last month, at the 5th annual Khodorkovsky Readings, by the philosopher Lev Gudkov, director of the Yuri Levada Analytical Centre in Moscow: http://www.memo.ru/2009/12/12/gudkov.htm (in Russian).  The gist of his main, perhaps somewhat counterintuitive, argument: current political regime in Russia has got next to nothing in common with good old late-Brezhnevian Soviet morass (otherwise popularly known as “sovok.”) Summary quote: “… ‘putinism’ is a system of decentralized application of the institutional resources of oppression retained by the force structures which have been left over from the bygone totalitarian regime but were subsequently appropriated by the current holders of power for the purpose of ensuring and protecting their private, clan/group interests. The regime is unstable, with dubious future chances of self-reproduction or peaceful transfer of power.”

Damn straight it’s got no future! It doesn’t have much of a present, either. Or any kind of an even remotely respectable, non-criminal past, for that matter. To quote Nikolai Nekrasov, “There have been worse times, but none as loathsome.” Since 1917, Russia has been ruled first by the outright tyrants, then the senescent buffoons, then a courageous well-meaning drunk, and finally a bevy of thieving nonentities. What, or who, comes next? Here’s hoping the end of the miserable oughties in Russia will augur the end of putinism.

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