After Putin, Russia will be either fascist or federalized, Ukrainian analyst says

kremlin necropolis


2014/08/11 • Politics

Ever more people around the world want Vladimir Putin to leave the scene but very few have asked themselves what Russia will be like after his departure. One who has, Sergey Klimovsky, suggests that Russia will either be a fascist state even worse than the current regime or a genuinely federal system that would work to everyone’s benefit.

In a commentary on the Ukrainian portal Hvylya, Klimovsky says that the desire to get rid of Putin has made the issue of what Russia might be like after him seem “not so important.” But in fact, the nature of the post-Putin regime in Russia is critical for that country, its neighbors and the world.

The outcome won’t be determined by Russia’s geopolitical opponents because except for Japan, they do not have territorial claims against Moscow. (Some of Russia’s friends, on the other hand, do have some, including China on the Russian Far East and Belarus on Kaliningrad, Klimovsky says.

Consequently, he continues, one must consider what would happen after “the inevitable fall of the Putin regime.” In that event, there would be “a political vacuum in Russia almost like the one which arose in the Donbas after the flight of Yanukovich. Indeed, it is possible it would be worse” because Russia lacks the parliamentary opposition that Ukraine had and has.

That makes the transition many would like toward a Russia-wide union of “democratically oriented” forces “not great, if for purely technical reasons.” More likely would be the coming to power of “a regime of Russian Nazism” led by Girkin and Zhirinovsky that would begin “a second wave of imperial hysteria.”

A better outcome which could have long-term positive consequences would be the establishment of genuine federalism in the Russian Federation in place of “the current imperial-style centralized” Russian state. “Federalization and not collapse” is in everyone’s interest, Klimovich says.

At some point, the commentator argues, “Russia’s federalization is an almost pre-ordained and inevitable step,” all the more so because of the anger many in Russia’s regions feel toward the center. Today, “’Muscovites’ for Russia is almost the same as ‘the Donetsk people’ for Ukraine, according to Klimovich.

And consequently, “one should not be surprised that the old slogan, ‘Liberate Russia from the Moscow yoke’ is again gaining popularity,” given that “the Golden Horde system” which made Moscow the tax collector continues to “function” with only one difference. “Now, Siberia pays tribute to Moscow and not the other way around.”

For Russians, federalization would allow for a more just system; for Russia’s neighbors, that country’s federalization would represent “a remarkable means of removing all their problems.” It would end Moscow’s “’defensive’ aggression” against Russia’s neighbors, and it would mean that Russia would “cease to be a source of a global military threat” and could join “a new geopolitical union from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”

Russia’s nuclear arsenal would be “a reliable guarantee” that no outsider would interfere in the process of federalization and that it could thus take place “without any ‘death’ of Russia.” Indeed, Klimovich says, “if the Ukrainian revolution had had such weapons, neither the seizure of Crimea nor the intervention of Russia in the Donbas would have occurred.”

Such a “federalist” revolution, he continues, could make the new Russia “again as immediately after 1917 an attractive model for other countries.” But whether this happens or not will depend entirely on the Russians themselves. “Neither NATO nor Ukraine will be doing this work for them.”

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  • Mat

    I think the fascist theory holds water. Putin and his political technology has set up a huge far-right imbalance in the political structure. While these parties are fake, they are given rope so he can see how far right and into the abyss towards his ideal system he can gradually push the country.

    Of course with him gone, that leaves a huge vacuum, and only these forces (ie, the Zhirinovskys) will be left standing, able to fill it. With a plurality Russia could carry on, but with the current system there will be survival of the fittest, which in this case means might.

    That said, I dont think that Zhirinovsky himself is an issue, if you dont have him you just domino back to whomever else is in politics in that camp. See Dugin or any of the Izborskies, etc. Girkin is named in this article but he was an unknown until a few months ago. New faces can always emerge.

    It would be the White House coup all over again. (and surprise surpirse, all these people we’re seeing now like Barkashov, Dugin, Girkin, Borodai, etc. were all involved in the coup then too)

  • Rods

    After Putin, you might see a short lived even more dictatorial fascist regime than his, but I think they will be so suppressive and nationalistic that they will fight some ill advised wars with their neighbours and lose and/or be remove by a popular revolution not unlike the 1989 to 91 turmoil. I personally think federalization is an unlikely option, like the CIS countries did not federalise but became independent. I can see Siberia, Chechnya and the Tartars along the Volga river all becoming independent states like the CIS countries in 1991. Why wouldn’t you want to control your own laws, taxation and society for the direct benefit of your subjects, compared with staying subservience to a suppressive, bullying, parasitic, remote tax authority in Moscow? After what has happened to Ukraine and the Budapest agreement with the shameful ignoring of their obligations by the US and UK, they will stay nuclear armed to guarantee their independence. During this period of turmoil I would expect Crimea, South Ossetia and Abkhazia to rejoin their mother countries and Transnistria to collapse and rejoin Moldova.

    ‘Billy no friends’ Russia where they have treated their citizens, neighbouring countries and the rest of the world with cruelty, contempt or worse will just become the minor country and economic power that in reality they are apart for their ageing, mainly poor quality, Soviet large guns before butter military and nuclear weapons, which is all they have to project their power, apart from an increasingly irrelevant withdrawal of energy threat, which would hurt them more than their customers. It is only aggression, grandiose imperialist ideas, mainly old military equipment and nuclear weapons, that is allowing this weak country to have a last grasp grandstanding attempt at punching above their small weight. It reminds me of overstretch that the British suffered after WWII with their empire and the Suez disaster.

    The EU, USA, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea and Australia with their combined $44.90tn (source 2013 World Bank) GDP economies which have applied sanctions to Russia for their appalling behaviour towards Ukraine, now Russia think they can affect these countries. Russia economy in comparison is $2.1bn or 4.67% of the sanctioning Western countries. So say Russia applies $1tn of sanctions by barring every thing from gas, oil, food, motor vehicles etc., etc., to push the west. Losing $1tn off their combined GDP’s is a drop of 2.22%, less than the US and UK expect to grow this year, whereas for Russia this would be almost 50% of their economy, which is the sort of hyper-inflationary collapse that Zimbabwe and 1920 Germany suffered with their economies! Russia has an inefficient uncompetitive outdated industrial sector, 25% of agricultural land is not cultivated due to failed infrastructure (impassable roads), a chronically underfunded low productivity agricultural sector so it almost exclusively relies on it natural resources. It is like the US senator stated with exports “a gas station plus a few natural resources with a country bolted to it”. It has far fewer options than their leadership think they have. They are ‘giving it large’ by bluffing with an all in, where they holding an off-suit 2-7 against a pair of aces.

    I learnt along time a go that you can’t stop a fool being fool as the only person the doesn’t realise their the fool is the fool themselves, if they did they would do something about it! Somebody needs to have a word in Putin’s ear or arrange a reverse tattoo on this forehead, so he can see in the mirror when he shaving in a morning, what the rest of us can see.

    • Eliy Arlev

      What is clear from your long post is that you posses strong Anti-Russian sentiment and wish bad things for Russia.

      • Rods

        I’m not anti-Russian but very anti-Putin and those directly involved in illegally attacking and annexing parts of Ukraine. I have close and distant Russian relations and also some Russian friends and a Ukrainian wife. I don’t want bad things to happen to Russia. I would like to see one thing happen to Putins illegal government and their henchmen for the murder, rape, torture, imprisonment and kidnapping of 5-10,000 Ukrainians and for their murder of 295 people on MH17 and that is that they end up in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity and hopefully upon conviction a whole life term in prison.

        I firmly believe that the Russian people are ill served by Putin’s regime, but ultimately, that is their right and up to them to form a Russian maiden to get rid of him, should they so wish. In the mean time they will suffer economically due to the chronic corruption, oppression and sanctions. If the Russian people are not prepared to change their government, like in 1917 and 1989-91, then they have to accept the fallout from not doing so.

        Increasing numbers of well qualified young Russian people are voting with their feet by emigrating, many as a result of having visited or been educated in western countries.

        • Eliy Arlev

          The thing is Rod, most Russians support Putin and his policy. So you are de-facto against them. Regarding emigration, it is true, some Russians want to live in Western values, and they have all the right to migrate if they choose to.
          You on the other hand have no right to impose your values on Russians who choose to follow their own.
          Regarding your accusations, Russians have plenty of their own accusations directed against the West, would you mind answering them?

  • Flexicoke

    Isn’t it interesting that most parts of the world that were sacked by the mongols are still in devastated condition and mostly dictatorships, (Russia, China, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan) while among the countries that managed to resist or were mostly spared are many prospering economies and functioning democracies.
    (Poland, today’s Israel, Vietnam, Japan)?
    I don’t want to make up a theory of any kind, but the correlation just comes to mind.
    To the best of Ukraine i hope that’s not a principle of nature.

  • Eliy Arlev

    Federalization or disintegration of Russia is as likely as federalization or disintegration of USA. Without strong central government Russia falls into chaos as seen in the 1990s, ordinary Russians remember that and thus will not support such political movements.