The inescapability of Putinism for Russia
One day, Putin will no longer be Russia's president. But Putinism will continue to reign from the Kremlin over the country. Khodorkovsky must agree with this assumption: if Navalny would go to power, he said, he will likely become like Putin.
- Thursday, 10 August 2017
This explains in brief the ineluctability for Russia, and the Russians, to deal with a centralized and personalist system of power. Mikhail Khodorkovsky expressed all his pessimism for the near future of his country in a recent interview published on YouTube. "On one hand, I would feel joy if Alexey Navalny won. A change in leadership is a good thing. On the other hand, I would say: Guys, brace for hard times".
Former billionaire, former Russia’s richest man and former Russia’s most famous inmate in Siberia prisons (he was released thanks to the presidential pardon in 2013), Khodorkovsky has never hidden his tepid enthusiasm for Navalny. This time, however, he goes a little further, drawing a sketch of the Russian situation that leaves little room for hope.
A common path to Russian leaders
"If Navalny won, we would go back to a system of power monopoly, which is unpleasant for everybody. Even Putin, when he came to power for the first time in 2000, was significantly more liberal", continued Khodorkovsy. Time has shown how Putin has increasingly centered on himself the control of the institutions, realizing that power vertical that makes the Kremlin so solid today. "The path traveled by this country’s leaders has always been more or less the same"
It is not a secret that Khodorkovsky has never shown intention to support Navalny.
When, just little less then a year ago, the former oligarch announced his intention to finance an anti-Putin candidate (noting at the same time that he himself would not be involved in active politics), Navalny's name did not appear in his candidates shortlist.
The leader of the (non-existent) Russian opposition doesn’t enjoy great support even in the fragmented alternative front. The considerations of his closeness to nationalistic movements and ideas, and certainly not indulgent towards minorities and their rights, make him a good candidate for that "common path of Russian leaders" drawn by Khodorkovsky.
Waiting for the perfect candidate
The system built by Putin is made to survive himself. It’s something very clear to president’s closest aides, among which one can already imagine his possible successors. And, thinking of some of them, we can only wish long life to the Tsar.
However, even in the unlikely assumption of an alternative anti-Putin candidate victory, like Navalny, it is difficult to imagine a system dismantling. More likely, the system will swallow up who come to power. It would not be the first time.
Direct appointment of the highest state offices, a Duma emptied of independence, a judiciary at the service of the Kremlin, the National Guard under President’s direct orders and increasingly illiberal legislation create a favorable environment for autarchy (or, how someone likes to call it, guided democracy).
However, Khodorkovsky himself has the solution: an anti-Putin candidate accompanied by a progressive elite during his path towards the Kremlin.
The Russians are still looking for it.