Gontmakher: ‘Putin’s system could fall apart in a single day,’ like the tsarist one a century ago

One of the popular protests in St. Petersburg demanding larger food rations for families of soldiers that ignited the February 1917 revolution in the Russian Empire (Image: Wikimedia)

One of the popular protests in St. Petersburg demanding larger food rations for families of soldiers that ignited the February 1917 revolution in the Russian Empire (Image: Wikimedia) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

A century ago, Nicholas II looked all powerful and yet he was overthrown and his country disintegrated, Yevgeny Gontmakher says; and today, Vladimir Putin looks even more powerful and with far greater popular support but because of the shortcomings of his system, it could “fall apart in a single day.”

Yevgeny Gontmakher

Yevgeny Gontmakher

In an interview with Igor Pushkaryov of the Znak news agency, the Moscow economist and commentator argues that there are too many parallels between 1917 and 2017 to be comfortable, most the result of Russia’s failure to change with the times.

Like the tsar and most of the world a century ago, Putin and his regime still operate under the principles of zones of influence defined in territorial terms. They have failed to recognize that in the world today, the true zones of influence are not about territorial acquisition and control but rather about the spread of influence. As a result, Moscow has frequently miscalculated and alienated others.

In addition, the Russian government has once again allowed the trend lines of economics and politics to diverge, supporting many of the right things in the economy, although keeping it more dominated by the state than is a good thing, but opposing the political changes such as democracy and local administration that economic development requires.

Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar, after his forced abdication

Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar, after his forced abdication

And third, Gontmakher says, both the regime of Nicholas II and that of Vladimir Putin operates on the principle that only one individual has all the answers. No matter how competent that leader is – and Gontmakher says the current Kremlin leader is quite competent in many ways – he will and does make mistakes and there is no one to correct him. This gives rise to maximalism and a Bolshevik-like spirit.

Because of all these things, the economist continues, a single unexpected event can bring the entire system crashing down. In 1917, it was the problem of the distribution of bread in Petrograd. Now, it could be a reaction to the poorly-thought-through plans at demolition and renovation of housing in Moscow.

At the same time, Gontmakher says, it is clear that Putin doesn’t want to restore the monarchy and make himself tsar. He “thinks he is a democrat. We have no mass repressions. In this regard, he isn’t Stalin; otherwise we wouldn’t be talking now. We can travel abroad. We can read almost anything we want. [And] in the narrow sense, he is not a nationalist … In economics, he also remains quite liberal.”

Vladimir Putin

Putin “doesn’t want a return to the Soviet system.” For him, the ideal system is “state capitalism.”

There are thus three possible scenarios:

  • First, “chaos of the type of February 1917,” when everything fell apart and power lay in the streets. “The probability of this scenario isn’t zero, but it isn’t that large.
  • Second, Putin himself comes to the recognition that reforms are needed and moves to introduce them like a second Gorbachev.
  • But third – and this is “the most probable scenario,” Gontmakher argues, “nothing will be changed.” In that event, Russia will fall further and further behind the rest of the world which will view it as a backwater. It isn’t going to fall apart. Putin will rule and things won’t be that disastrous at least during his lifetime.

But there are a few reasons to think that this scenario won’t be allowed to proceed, Gontmakher says.

“Social lifts are now destroyed. We have a new nomenklatura in which the sons and daughters of those who rose in the 1990s now occupy good posts at all levels and even with good education to get into this caste is now practically impossible.”

Those who can’t see no future for themselves, and the regime has not addressed this. They thus could become a revolutionary element just as was the case in Russia a century ago. Yes, there were peasants and workers behind what happened in 1917, but “the majority” behind those events “were from privileged urban strata, many with university educations … and discomfort arose among them.”

At the end of the imperial period, “they suddenly saw that in Russia social lifts just like now did not work or were stopped and that there were no particular prospects to correct this by evolutionary means.” If that happens again, the Putin system is going to be challenged, even threatened, however powerful it now appears to be.


Edited by: A. N.

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  • zorbatheturk

    The end of the Putin will be the start of major celebrations.

    • veth

      THE COLLAPSE HAS STARTED………………………………………….

      Simferopol, Sevastopol left without electricity and Internet

      28.07.2017 15:55
      In the occupied Crimea, the center of Simferopol and Sevastopol were left without electricity. The “authorities” of Crimea announce a disconnection of all four energy bridge lines.
      This is reported by the Crimean News portal.

      According to the resource, the electricity network was completely shut down. The reasons are being clarified. Signals on power outages, except for Simferopol and Sevastopol, come from other cities of Crimea – Yevpatoria, Feodosia, Yalta.

      In addition, there were problems with mobile communication.

  • Eolone

    In Russia, “the majority” behind those events “were from privileged urban strata, many with university educations … and discomfort arose among them.”

    So did the French Revolution begin with the Third Estate, the privileged secular members of society.

    ” In economics, [Putin] also remains quite liberal.” Did the author mean neo-liberal? and in what way?

    Quoted passage: “…in the world today, the true zones of influence are not about territorial acquisition and control but rather about the spread of influence.”

    Countries do not go around spreading influence as an end. China probably has less desire to influence African nations than to obtain cheap materials. China, of course, is not spreading democracy, democracy which the author states is required for economic development.

  • veth

    Romania denies transit of plane with sanction-bound Russian Deputy PM Rogozin

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Rogozin’s visit to Moldova on Friday failed because the Romanian authorities had refused to give overflight permission for a Russian airline’s plane with Russian delegates on board, and the aircraft had to land in Minsk, Belarus, after which the Russian official returned to Moscow, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

    World 18:56, 28 July 2017

    Rogozin was scheduled to meet with Moldovan President Igor Dodon in Chisinau on the latter’s personal invitation, TASS reported. The two planned to visit the city of Bender to attend official events on the occasion of the 25th peacekeeping operation in the Dniester area. A spokesman for Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the plane with Rogozin on board was not permitted to cross the country’s airspace. Hungary, too, denied transit through its airspace and a stopover in Budapest, TASS said. Read also EU ambassadors extend sanctions against Russians for 6 months Rogozin’s response to Bucharest’s move was immediate. “The Romanian authorities have endangered the lives of passengers, women and children, flying by S7. Fuel was enough only until Minsk. You scumbags, retaliation will follow,” he tweeted. On March 17, 2014, the next day after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea, Rogozin became one of the first seven individuals who were placed by the then U.S. President Obama on the sanctions list. The sanctions froze his assets in the U.S. and barred him from entering the country. He was also added to the Canadian and to the EU sanction lists due to the Crimean crisis. Rogozin once stated that Russia’s defense sector has “many other ways of travelling the world besides tourist visas” and “tanks don’t need visas.”

    Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/world/2054876-romania-denies-transit-of-plane-with-sanction-bound-russian-deputy-pm-rogozin.html

  • veth
  • Screwdriver

    If the Putin`s system fails – how it is going to help Kiev Nazi regime ?

    • veth

      Well, Russian Nazzi, Ukraine is a democracy, Russia a pure Hitler based dictatorship/

    • svend lykkegaard

      Strange. Little Rusian Teens always write nazi about Ukraine and always forget the real naziregime in Russia, you always have to use the Troll Manual. Remember it was told by a normal Russian Teens, who left the Troll Factory more than a year ago, and you still use the same stupid manual, well your problem.
      But for your information all the civilized world are waiting for Putler with friends to fall. Then mayby, just mayby, we then can have a normal and civilized connection with Russia.

      • Screwdriver

        From the troll manual:

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Don’t bother with “a normal and civilised connection”. The EU and US don’t need Dwarfstan at all. It has nothing positive to offer whatsoever, except to corrupt individuals such as Gazprom Gerd Schröder. And to quote and old Chinese proverb, “an empty hand is not licked.”

      • zorbatheturk

        I am not holding my breath.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        The Little Russian Teens have also never been told that until 22/6/1941 Stalin was Adolf’s most important ally, sending oil, grain, manganese and other materials to Germany in exchange for modern machine tools and other high-tech gear while Germany was at war with France and the UK. They have never been told about NKVD and Gestapo happily collaborating in oppressing Poland. Nor were or are they told about the hundreds of thousands of Russian Hiwis, the Lokot Autonomy, the ROA under Vlasov, the Cossacks under German general von Pannwitz etc etc who actively collaborated with Adolf against Stalin. Interestingly, the 1985 SOVIET film “Idi i smotri” showns Belarusian auxiliaries collaborating with SS units in their “Bandenbekämpfung”- yet in Pedo Putolini’s propaganda ONLY Ukrainians collaborated with Adolf. In reality however collaboration with Adolf’s troops was by no means solely by Ukrainians, who had reason enough to regard Adolf’s troops as liberators initially, as did the Baltics.

    • MichaelA

      it will stop attacks by kremlin nazis on free people of ukraine

      • Screwdriver

        Putin is weak. We hope that when he is gone, new Russian leader will not hesitate to use full Russian army force to liberate Ukrainians/Malorussians.

        • MichaelA

          putin used the full russian army
          russian boys dont want to fight
          they had all the best equipment but they lost
          ukraine is free from fascists in moscow

          • Screwdriver

            take a pill

          • MichaelA

            russian soldiers do
            a lot
            and get drunk a lot
            putin used the full russian army
            russian boys dont want to fight
            they had all the best equipment but they lost

  • veth

    Tehnopromeksport, Rostec’s subsidiary, that bought the Siemens gas turbines, confirmed they were delivered to Crimea after being updated, RBK informs.

    The company says they didn’t receive offers of buy-back from Siemens. Due to bankruptcy, Tehnopromeksport offered the German company to buy out the turbines in 2016. They also organized a public tender, but Siemens didn’t take the offer.

    Related: Germany: Siemens turbines in Crimea may be detrimental to Russia-Germany relations
    After that, the turbines were sold to another company, they were updated and “their characteristics were specified for the project”. According to Tehnopromeksport representative, the project was building power plants in Crimea.

    “In the process Russian “know-how” was used, new equipment was bought. The company incurred costs in transportation, installation and certification of the equipment,” the company told.

    Russian know -how hahahahaha, if Russia knew how to build generators, they did have to be imported, from Ukraine or Germany………..

  • veth

    Ukraine’s MFA protests against Russian “humanitarian convoy” coming to Ukraine illegally
    It is emphasized that the Ukrainian side didn’t give permission for “humanitarian convoy” to enter the country

    21:34, 28 July 2017

    Emergency Service of Russia
    Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested against 21 cars with “humanitarian aid” entering the Ukrainian territory from Russia, as the MFA informs on their website.

    On Thursday, July 27, cargo trucks from Russia illegally crossed the Ukrainian border, under the pretext of delivering so-called “humanitarian aid”.

    It is emphasized that the Ukrainian side didn’t give permission for “humanitarian convoy” to enter the country, and as the circumstance of the border crossing didn’t correspond to the legal procedure, Ukrainian border and custom control couldn’t register the cargo.

    Related: Russian ‘humanitarian convoy’ crosses Ukrainian border, cars half filled
    The Russian authorities have been sending the so-called humanitarian convoys to Ukraine since August 2014. The Russian side claims the trucks carry food, water, medicines, books, agrarian instruments and other necessities. Ukrainian border guards cannot check the contents of trucks, and Russia refused to send their humanitarian aid through the controlled checkpoints on the border, as requested by Ukraine. Ukraine insists there are weapons and ammunition aboard the trucks, so they reach Kremlin-backed militants that keep on attacking Ukrainian positions.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The convoy was probably also sent to transport dead Kolorads back to Rostov oblast for “processing”, i.e. cremation in secret in order to conceal the true extent of Dwarfstan’s losses in the Donbas.

    • gmab

      There’s also a huge number of new factories & businesses to take apart (since the blockade) and ship to RuSSia. The theft never stops.

  • zorbatheturk

    I have a feeling the solution to the problem of Pootin is gonna involve a whole lotta shootin’…