The Perils of Managed Democracy

The biggest problem with managing fraudulent elections and appointing the next president of Russia is that you just can’t be sure that individual “elected” will remain under your control. Though they may look calm and confident, the most recent diplomatic swagger and hubris from Moscow serves to conceal what are most certainly moments of great panic and infighting. From IHT:

Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russian and Eurasian program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, agreed that Putin will likely try to step down without relinquishing most, or any, of his power. “What he’s proposing to do is walk out of the Kremlin and remain a very influential guy,” Kuchins said. “Most guys don’t walk out of the Kremlin, and if they do they don’t have any major influence on politics. What’s he’s proposing to do is entirely novel in Russian history.” … One way or the other, analysts say, Putin will probably cede formal power at least temporarily. That, Kuchins and others point out, entails considerable risk. Kuchins noted that when Boris Yeltsin named Putin acting president and his political heir in 1999, many of those around Yeltsin, including the billionaire Boris Berezovsky, “thought Putin would be their puppet.” If that’s what Berezovsky believed, it was a grave miscalculation. After his election in 2000, Putin had a falling out with Berezovsky and stripped him of control of a top television channel. The tycoon fled to Britain, but the Kremlin has pressed for his extradition, to face charges related to alleged economic crimes. The lesson is that transferring power can be risky. “The less risky thing for Putin to do is just stay on,” Kuchins said. “The more risky thing is to try to create a new precedent in Russian history.”