Putin’s State Council would be a new Politburo designed to make succession easier, Solovey says

Stalin's Politburo of 1935. The blacked-out figure is Jānis Rudzutaks, who was arrested in 1937, accused of Trotskyism and espionage for Nazi Germany, and sentenced to death. He was shot by the NKVD secret police in 1938. (Image: ОГИЗ-ИЗОГИЗ)

Stalin's Politburo of 1935. The blacked-out figure is Jānis Rudzutaks, who was arrested in 1937, accused of Trotskyism and espionage for Nazi Germany, and sentenced to death. He was shot by the NKVD secret police in 1938. (Image: ОГИЗ-ИЗОГИЗ) 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Rumors that Vladimir Putin plans to create a State Council are widespread, Valeriy Solovey says; and the only reason the Kremlin leader would have to take such a step would be to create a Politburo-like institution that could ensure that the succession when it comes will be “acceptable for the main groups of the elite and society.”

Valeriy Solovey

Valeriy Solovey

The MGIMO professor and commentator says that in the course of the last two days, he has frequently been asked about the rumors that a State Council will be created to replace the position of president (on these rumors, see this post).

According to Solovey, such rumors have surfaced at various points “for about ten years,” and many of them focus on the idea of creating a State Council which has as “its closest historical analogue the Soviet Politburo” which was “a collegial administration,” especially at times of succession.

Indeed, the Moscow commentator says, the only thing that makes the creation of a State Council now “sensible” is to ensure “such a personal succession at the top of the powers that be which would be acceptable for the main groups of the elite and society.” But that has some serious consequences, he continues.

He writes:

“If we begin to move in this direction politically, in terms of information and in legal relations in the next few months, this will mean that the problem of succession has significantly intensified.”

And presumably with the creation of such a State Council, because of the expectations it would create, conflicts over that would intensify still further.

Further, Solovey says:

“Such a cardinal reform of the higher reaches of state power in [Russian] conditions will inevitably lead to a sharp weakening of what is even without this an ineffective government apparatus and lead to organizational chaos and political disinformation.”

Lenin's Politburo of 1918. Only a couple of its members survived Stalin's "cleanings."

Lenin’s Politburo of 1918. Only a couple of its members survived Stalin’s “cleanings.”

While the MGIMO professor doesn’t say so, his words suggest that any move in this direction would lead many Russians to conclude that their country was again entering an interregnum, much like the one Fyodor Burlatsky warned of 34 years ago.

And however accurate such conclusions may prove, they will lead to expectations of a new time of troubles, yet another way in which an authoritarian system like Putin’s does not enjoy one of the chief advantages of a democratic system, the guaranteed rotation of elites and the rise of new ones as a normal part of life.


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Edited by: A. N.

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