Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Putin Must Focus on Thinking Long-Term

With President Vladimir Putin engrossed in matters of history, religion, geopolitics and war, a sense of strategic drift is unnerving the nation's elites. With all the patriotic consolidation around Putin, there is no effort to define a long-term vision for the country.

In his public statements Putin sounds more interested in glorifying Russia's past than in charting a course for the nation's future. He is largely indifferent to his 2012 campaign pledges, which now require a major revision in vastly changed circumstances.

If the policy goals he was elected to implement are no longer relevant, and new objectives are not being formulated, it creates a crisis of political legitimacy with the rationale for Putin's presidency dissipating.

The sky-high ratings have numbed his political sensitivities to allow for policies that look ill-conceived and even distasteful. The legally dubious decision to move the 2016 parliamentary elections by three months gives the Kremlin no political advantage while betraying an inner sense of insecurity and weakness.

The disgraceful plan to destroy embargoed food from Europe flies in the face of Orthodox values and the public sentiment traumatized by a history of famine, war and Soviet scarcity. This tone-deaf decision and the widely publicized lavish wedding of the president's spokesman combine to create Russia's "let them eat cake" moment. The president's excessive ratings are turning into a source of political instability. The desire to maintain the current consolidation around Putin pushes the Kremlin to deny access to viable political alternatives even at the regional and local levels of government.

This is the logic behind the decision to deny registration to the Democratic Coalition for the 2015 regional legislative elections. While the technical goal is to deny the Parnas opposition party the legal way to field candidates in the 2016 Duma elections without collecting signatures, the fear seems to be that election results may not confirm the stratospheric levels of pro-Putin support, undermining the regime's survival strategy.

Instead of deflating the pressure for change by co-opting its agents into the legal political process, the policy is to eliminate any legitimate manifestation that such a clamor exists. The desire "to maintain the stratospheric ratings" at the cost of political legitimacy may fuel instability.

The strategic drift is debilitating. A sense of strategic purpose and direction needs to be restored soon.

Vladimir Frolov is president of LEFF Group, a government relations and PR company.

The views expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more