Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Putin vs Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed from the Right

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Putin vs Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed from the Right

Article excerpt

Putin vs Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed from the Right Alexander Dugin Arktos, 2014

The Kremlin's annexation of Crimea in early 2014 appears to have precipitated a new cold war between Russia and the West. Despite the opprobrium he has generated in the West, opinion surveys indicate that President Vladimir Putin's seizure of this historic Russian territory was viewed as a popular gambit by the Russian people. His internal critics notwithstanding, Putin appears to be firmly in control of the Russian state. In recent years, the sober, seemingly disciplined former KGB officer has elevated Russia's position in foreign affairs. By doing so, he has endeared himself to the nationalist forces in his country, including Alexander Dugin, a prominent conservative theorist who claims to be the longest active figure in Russian politics. In his book Putin vs Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed from the Right, Dugin dissects and evaluates the Russian president's domestic and foreign policies since Putin took over the reins of the Kremlin in late 1999. Originally published in Russian in 2012, the book was made available in English by Arktos in 2014.

Here is the account given by Dugin: As the new millennium approached, the Russian nation was in a state of rapid and terminal decline. In the summer of 1998, the value of the ruble collapsed and Russia defaulted on its debt. Despite the high hopes the Russian people initially had for their country after the collapse of communism, President Boris Yeltsin proved to be a grave disappointment. Chronically drunk and disengaged as a leader, he was seen as a national embarrassment, as his nation experienced an era of anomie comparable to Weimar Germany, including severe economic dislocation, hyperinflation, and an alarming deterioration in public health. Utterly discredited, Yeltsin searched for a successor in late 1999. Ultimately, he chose Vladimir Putin, a relatively obscure figure who had risen to the helm of the FSB (the successor to the KGB). Just a few months before, Putin had demonstrated his resolve when a crisis gripped the nation. In September of 1999, Moscow and other Russian cities were terrorized by a series of explosions in which nearly two hundred people were killed and many more injured. To assuage the nation, Putin appeared on Russian television and announced that he would hunt down the terrorists. His language suggested that he would run the country with an iron fist and his popularity soared. Shortly after assuming the presidency, he launched a new military campaign in Chechnya to quell separatist rebels and prevent the further disintegration of the country.

In his first few years in office, Putin set about reinvigorating the central government. For instance, in 2004, he announced that governors would no longer be elected; rather, he would appoint them as well as the mayor of Moscow. Moreover, members of the lower house of parliament would no longer be directly elected. Instead, Russian citizens would cast their votes in favor of political parties, which would then fill their seats with ranking members. As a consequence, the president became the only federal-level public official that was directly elected. Although these measures caused some consternation, especially with political liberals, many Russians welcomed them as necessary to stabilize the country, which had experienced so much turmoil over the previous two decades.

To Dugin, Putin's ascendance came at a critical juncture in Russian history and was perhaps even providential. He lauds Putin for accomplishing a number of "Herculean" feats from the outset of his first term. First, he prevented the breakaway of the Caucasus region from Russia. Second, he cracked down on the parochialism fostered by his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, who relinquished much of the authority of the Kremlin visà- vis the provinces. Third, Putin confronted the so-called oligarchs who had plundered much of the nation's wealth and exiled the most notorious of them-including Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky-from Russia. …

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