Andropovian Modernization

Blogging at the Power Vertical, Brian Whitmore takes a look at Russia’s pokazukha (fake) liberalization.

It’s a bit ironic that Putin and his team, who clearly favor a Yury Andropov-style authoritarian modernization, are now being forced — albeit temporarily and reluctantly — to pursue policies more reminiscent of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika. And we all remember how that exercise in controlled liberalization turned out.

Truth told, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what is going on here and haven’t reached any definitive conclusions. In the past, I have written that Putin and his inner circle were seeking to establish “an enduring political system — a centralized, authoritarian, vertically integrated and unitary executive that can manage a thorough and comprehensive modernization of Russia.” Essentially Andropov’s vision of modernization.

I still believe that was the plan. The recent pokazukha liberalization (if you can even call it that) was probably an adjustment brought on by the economic crisis. But I still believe that for the key members of Putin’s inner circle — and certainly for key siloviki like Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin — the goals of the original plan remain intact.