Yeltsin’s advisor: there are alternatives to Putin and not all of them are in Kremlin

Georgy Satarov

Georgy Satarov 

2015/02/05 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

In any political system, there is always “an alternative” to the current leader, Georgy Satarov says, and consequently, when Vladimir Putin leaves his position, a new head of Russia will emerge — and it won’t necessarily be someone from the current Kremlin entourage or happen peacefully.

But it is “another matter” entirely to describe how that individual will emerge, the former Yeltsin advisor says in an interview with Liga.net. “Under Putin, a legitimate change of power appears problematic.” Problematic, however, doesn’t mean “impossible,” he insists. It could even involve a revolution.

Sanctions are hitting Russia hard because its economy was too focused on oil and gas exports, because it lacks the resources to overcome the financial situation it faces, and especially because the way out of its current dilemma “lies not in the sphere of economics but in the area of reforms of legal and political institutions.”

Political expert, sociologist and Yeltsin’s advisor Satarov says that he does not exclude that possibility although doesn’t see it happening soon. For it to occur, sanctions would have to be in place for long enough to lead to deficits, unemployment, and an increase in crime. Add to that “caskets coming back from the Donbas,” and “social protest will inevitably grow. When it takes on political form, everything is possible.”

And the form it will take will come from leaders who arise in the course of the growth of social protest rather than from people in the Duma. It could even come from within Putin’s entourage, many of whose members are unhappy with things as they are but who are generally “unprepared for action” although they would accept a new leader with alacrity.

According to Satarov, sanctions are hitting Russia hard because its economy was too focused on oil and gas exports, because it lacks the resources to overcome the financial situation it faces, and especially because the way out of its current dilemma “lies not in the sphere of economics but in the area of reforms of legal and political institutions.”

Moscow is running out of time, he continues. The “most optimistic” forecasts predict a collapse by mid-2016, but Satarov says that he thinks things will come much sooner, the result of a combination of the impact of sanctions and increased military spending which Russia cannot afford.

Moscow is running out of time, he continues. The “most optimistic” forecasts predict a collapse by mid-2016, but Satarov says that he thinks things will come much sooner, the result of a combination of the impact of sanctions and increased military spending which Russia cannot afford.

Those who think sanctions are not playing a role are wrong; they simply expect them to work more quickly than they can. Sanctions, Satarov points out, “work step by step,” but even now they are creating real problems for Moscow and the Russian population and those problems will only grow in the coming months.

Polls showing Putin with 85 percent support are inaccurate, he continues. At most 15 percent really support him. The remainder consists “simply of conformists.” They supported past leaders for that reason, and they will support any future one as well. Only a miniscule part of the population is politically active and will cause change.

With regard to the war in Ukraine, Satarov says that Putin bears “direct and maximum” responsibility for the conflict. “This is his war.” But he says he “completely excludes” the possibility that Putin would attack the Baltic countries or other European states. The very idea of that is “laughable” because Moscow does not have the resources to do so.

In Ukraine, Putin will try to keep the situation at a low boil so as to create “controlled chaos” and keep Kyiv and the West off balance. He cannot retreat, but “he hasn’t been able to seize the east of Ukraine” completely and wouldn’t be able to take more if he tried. And it must be remembered that Crimea is Ukrainian territory, whatever Putin says.

Satarov said that he has “no doubt” that the current government in Kyiv is legitimate, and he says he is watching “with enormous sympathy” as it is forced to deal with an enormous range of complex problems. And he says that eventually, after Putin, it may be possible for Ukrainians and Russians to have a rapprochement but that this will require several decades.

Polls showing Putin with 85 percent support are inaccurate. At most 15 percent really support him. The remainder consists “simply of conformists.”

Asked whether Putin’s regime is a form of fascism, Satarov says that this is “of course, not the case. A fascist regime is above all an ideological regime, and Putin’s Russia has no ideology.” Its notions of a Russian world and sovereign democracy are simply playing at ideology for television viewers.

For a regime to be said to have an ideology, that set of ideas must “in the first instance” penetrate and be accepted by the elite. “The Putin elite in Russia doesn’t believe in ‘a Russian world;’ they are too pragmatic and mercantile comrades for that.” Consequently, what exists in Russia is not fascism but rather something else.

Satarov says that he can best describe it as “a plebiscite-based dictatorship with an admixture of extreme kleptocracy” one which uses “the appearance of democratic procedures” but allows for no real choice as the basis for “the quasi-legitimation of the regime. With quasi-elections, quasi-polls, and quasi-freedom of speech.”

Fascism, were it to come, Satarov concludes, would “shamelessly get rid of all of this, but a dictator who bases his power on plebiscites needs to create the appearance of democratic procedures.”

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Jens A

    Yeltsin surely did have a very good adviser. Sad he didn’t listen more to him.

    • Richard Hoover

      SARATOV BLOG,,,PUTIN BASICALLY IS HANGING HIMSELF WITH HS OWN ROPE IN HIS BAG OF TRICKS,,,GUNS DONT FIRE WHEN YOUR GASPING FOR LIFE!! AND TO GET A ROPE OFF YOUR NECK.,,PANNICK ,,IS QUESTIOABLE,,,WAR OR TO CUT THE ROPE OFF AND SURVIVE AND SIT IN THE CORNER AND LIVE AT LEAST? HE DESEVES THE ROPE! AFTER BUTCHERING UKRAINE! CESCESCEAU ROMANIA STYLE? SADDAM HUSAN?

      BIN LADEN……..SINK PUTIN IN THE RUSSIAN WHITE SEA WHERE STALIN DROWNED AND MURDERED MILLIONS OF RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIAN KULAKS AND NATIONALIST PATRIOTS.

  • Richard Hoover

    THIS MAN IS BRILLIANT,,,I HOPE THIS IS THE CASE,,,,,PUTIN IS A CLOWN WITH A GUN,,BOTTOM LINE ,,FREEKING THE WORLD OUT AT A PARTY,,BUT HE CANT AFFORD THE GAS IN HIS CAR TO KEEP HIS PARTY GAME GOING,,,,HE WANTS MORE TERRITORY LIKE UKRAINE TO KEEP THE WEST IN FEAR AND EUROPE ,,SO HE CAN SWING HIS POWER,,BUT ITS BACKFIRING ON HIM,,AND HIS PEOPLE MOSTLY THE ELITIST MATERIALISTIC ARE HIS OWNLY FANS AT THE PARTY WHILE THE DANGEROUS PSYCO CLOWN KEEPS THE SAME GAME GOING ON PROMISING RUSSIA A LONGER PARTYY AND ICE CREAM,,,,HIS AUDIENCE AND MOST RUSSIANS WONT PAY THE PRICE TO WATCH HIS SONG AND DANCE WHLE RUSSIA SINKS ASTER AND CANT PAY FOR PUTINS BULLETS HE SHOOTS WHICH COST RUSSIAN LIVES AND UKRAINIANS,,,ITS JUST A GAME OF DEATH,,PERIOD,,NO GAINS AT ALL,,,,,,100% LOSSES, ONLY FOR HIM AND UKRAINE TO DEFEND ITS FAMILIES ROM A PSYCO CLOWN WITH A GUN IN THEIR HOUSE! HE HIRED HIMSELF TO BE THE CLOWN ,,NOT THE PEOPLE! THEY JUST EAR HIM AFTER HIS OWN RUSSIAN TERRORIST ACTIVITY IN 1999 BOMBING HIS OWN RUSSIANS TO HELL AND BLAMING CHECHENS AND TERORIST TO ATTCK THEIR LANDS TOO,,LIKE UKRAINE,,LIKE OSSETIA GEORGIA,,,, THIS BLOG BY SARATOV IS A GREAT EXPLANATION OF THE END GAME ,,, I PRAY.

    • evanlarkspur

      Richard, your keyboard is broken. The caps lock is glued “on”. Did you know? It makes people just skip over your posts rather than read them, I’m afraid….

      • Richard Hoover

        yes sir it is broken,,,,until now ,,im on another computer,,thanks ,,my blog is caps for shocking big eyes!! haha take care

  • Dirk Smith

    Remove the KGB dwarf and exile him to his biggest failure: Sochi.