Putin awards Russia's Order of Honor to the leader of a Moscow biker group financed by the Putin government Alexander Zaldostanov (aka "the Surgeon"). The group serves important propaganda functions in the Russian hybrid war and actively participated in Putin's Anschluss of Crimea. (Image: Mikhail Klimentyev/RIAN)
Having illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, Igor Yakovenko says, Vladimir Putin infected Russia with an incurable illness, one that his state-controlled television has spread throughout the entire social fabric of the Russian Federation. And today, there are no forces, including Putin, capable of preventing new outbreaks of this illness.
In a commentary for the US-based Russian language portal 7 Days, the Moscow commentator says “Putin today is absolutely powerless in the face of the illness which he gave birth.” Before Crimea, he controlled things. Now, events are increasingly passing out of his control.
“Putin today is absolutely powerless in the face of the illness which he gave birth.” Before Crimea, he controlled things. Now, events are increasingly passing out of his control.
The political system under Putin since Crimea “does not have any analogues in history and is therefore can’t be analyzed within the framework of customary political science categories,” Yakovenko says. Especially inappropriate are those which attempt to put Putin in the same category as Mao, given “Putin’s complete lack of any ideas.”
Last week, Moscow political analyst Nikolay Petrov sought to analyze Putinism in “Vedomosti” in which, Yakovenko says, he “justly points out the changes of the entire configuration of elites” in Putin’s Moscow.
But when Petrov says that “there is a supreme commander” (Putin) who makes all the decision and directs all that is happening, Yakovenko argues, the Moscow analyst “creates a completely false image of the political reality of contemporary Russia.”
“Unlike Mao, Lenin, Stalin or Hitler,” he continues, “Putin at the moment of his coming to power did not have any ideology and over the 17 years of power, he has not developed one.” Instead, there is “a certain eclectic collection of values,” some taken from his Petersburg childhood, some from the KGB, and some from the 1990s. But they are not a coherent whole.
In large measure because of that, “Putin’s Russia is a seriously ill country. The illness is called Putinism. Putin doesn’t manage anything but is simply a primary malignant tumor, one that arose first in the Kremlin thanks to Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] and ‘The Family’ and then, thanks to television, metastasizing first in Crimea and the Donbas and now throughout all of Russia.”
“Putin’s Russia is a seriously ill country. The illness is called Putinism. Putin doesn’t manage anything but is simply a primary malignant tumor, one that arose first in the Kremlin thanks to Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] and ‘The Family’ and then, thanks to television, metastasizing first in Crimea and the Donbas and now throughout all of Russia.”
As the disease spreads, Yakovenko continues, it infects ever more organs of “the social body and gives rise to their total dysfunctioning.” That sets Putinism apart from those with whom he is often compared because he himself is also infected and thus is not in a position to control the situation or make radical changes.
“Lenin introduced the cannibalistic ‘war communism’ but then, having become convicted that this was a dead end, replaced it with NEP [New Economic Policy – Ed.]. Mao started the insane ‘cultural revolution’ and he then liquidated it when he understood that it was really threatening the life of the country.” But Putin is not in a position “to fight against the metastasizing spread of ‘Crimea is Ours’ and ‘the Russian world’ because he is inseparable from the illness and is himself part of it.”
And that has an important implication: one can’t cure a disease by negotiation and so it is “useless” to continue to talk with Putin. “The malignant tumor of Putinism must be removed by surgical means. The alternative is the disappearance from the globe of a country called Russia,” the only other way this cancer can be stopped.
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