Staunton, July 23 – Vladimir Putin has repeated the two chief mistakes of Yury Andropov – invading a neighboring country and shooting down a civilian aircraft – but he doesn’t have the Soviet-era KGB and CPSU chief’s options anytime soon of a return to totalitarianism or a shift to officers in the organs who can get Russia out of its difficulties.
That is the judgment of Sergey Grigoryants, a prominent dissident in Soviet times who suffered for his actions and who today is a thorough-going critic of the Putin regime and its crimes. His words merit the closest attention because Grigoryants very much knows whereof he speaks.
Having in the space of three months repeated Andropov’s mistakes, Putin doesn’t have the options that the former Soviet leader did. He has not developed the institutions he would need to impose totalitarian control over the country – institutions Andropov had and developed over 15 years – and he doesn’t have young and supposedly pure KGB and party operatives who can try to save the situation.
In short, there are neither camps nor Gorbachevs immediately available to Putin, all speculation about both notwithstanding, Grigoryants says. No one should be under any “illusion” about that.
Grigoryants says that in his view, “the KGB and the MVD are not capable of creating real terror in the country. Censorship, the destruction of the electoral system and public life, and suppression of the Internet are insufficient for that.” And the options of turning to the West by reforming at home are very, very limited.
No one believes Putin anymore after what he has done, the commentator continues, and consequently, it is “already too late” for the Kremlin leader to present himself as something other than an outlaw, especially since “in terms of his moral qualities, Putin is no better than Andropov or Stalin.”
And Putin isn’t about to yield power to anyone else, Grigoryants continues. He won’t commit suicide as legend has it that Nicholas I did out of a sense of shame. And his system does not allow for the emergence of a serious alternative. That makes it “very difficult to imagine” what will happen next, he says. But almost certainly, it will not be anything good.