Andrew Kuchins from CSIS has a rather obvious article in the Washington Post today. Although he offers little in the way of new information, at least he seems to have done a better job resisting the regime’s seduction at the Valdai discussion group, unlike many others.
The word among Moscow insiders today is that the Kremlin is looking very closely at the experience of four-time U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man who led the United States through the Great Depression and WWII. Putin may have convinced himself that he is the only one who could “save” the Russian nation, and the job is unfinished, as it was in 1940 when FDR decided to run for a third term. The problem with the FDR analogy is twofold. First, Russia is neither in the midst of a world war nor an economic depression; there is no need for a “savior” now. And second, unlike the United States in the 1930s, Russia has not established a tradition of transfer of executive power through free and fair elections. Building that tradition by stepping down matters a great deal for Russia’s political evolution. In doing so, Vladimir Putin has a chance to make the most important contribution to his political legacy by walking away.