Surrounded by riot police, demonstrators in St. Petersburg carry a poster depicting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the elderly Soviet Communists party leader Leonid Brezhnev in February 2012, with less than a week remaining before he was elected as Russian President for the third time (Image: EPA)
It is fashionable to compare the Putin regime of today with that of Leonid Brezhnev, but such comparisons are deeply mistaken because the Kremlin now “is not a rickety ideological regime but a bold and self-confident one,” Aleksandr Morozov says.
In pointing to this recognition by a Moscow commentator, US-based Russian historian Irina Pavlova argues that Russian analysts need to take “the next step and recognize that the [Putin] regime has an ideology: It is a commitment to Russia being a great power or Russian fundamentalism.”
That idea, she says, “unites the powers that be, the elite, the people of Russia and yes a significant part of progressive society.” As such, as Pavlova has pointed out before, it makes the Russia of today more united and more dangerous to itself and to others than Brezhnevism was.
And that is the case, the Russian historian suggests, despite all the problems Russia faces. Indeed, Pavlova argues, the Kremlin’s success in shifting the blame for those problems onto the West has helped promote Russian fundamentalism and thus become a source of strength rather than weakness for the regime if not for Russia as a whole.
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