Putin entered his “Stalin phase”

Vladimir Putin, in front of a banner with images of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin (via Reuters / file) (SPUTNIK /)

As the regime of the Russian president, Vladimir PutinBecomes more harsh and repressiveimproves the image that the Russians have of their former leader joseph stalin. Between 2016 and 2021, the claim that “Stalin was a great leader” doubled from 28 percent to 56 percent, according to surveys conducted by the independent center levada cited in the article written by Andrey Kolesnikov in the magazine foreign affairs. At the same time, in those five years, the number of people who disagreed with that statement fell from 23 percent to 14 percent.

Over the years Putin has become increasingly paranoid and repressivewhich makes him similar to Stalin in his last time at the head of the Soviet Union. Around the end of World War II and until his death in 1953, the dictator of Georgian origin made his administration a ironclad autocratic dictatorship. She was less and less intolerant of opinions, disbelieving even those closest to her and imagining fictitious scenarios of a paranoid type.

The same seems to be happening now to Putin, who has been almost 20 years as President of the Russian Federation. In that period, he modified in his favor the Constitution to entrench himself in power, he staged the poisoning and arrest of the opponent Alexei Navalny and, as if that were not enough, in February of this year he started a war of catastrophic consequences for the entire world that is still going on and seems to have no end in sight.

This 2022, without a doubt, has been the year in which Putin has taken his regime beyond the imaginable. Russia has become a personal autocracy of totalitarian type based on the cult of personality and heroic death for the country, both classic elements of the stalinist ideology.

Vladimir Putin visits a transport hub under construction at a tourist complex in the Tver region, Russia November 7, 2022. Sputnik/Maxim Blinov/Pool via REUTERS
Vladimir Putin visits a transportation hub under construction at a tourist complex in the Tver region, Russia November 7, 2022. Sputnik/Maxim Blinov/Pool via REUTERS (SPUTNIK/)

For the analyst Andrei Kolesnikov, the similarities between the current Putin and the Stalin of recent years are found in the way of leading. Both agree in the belief that decisions are made by only one person: in this case, they. They do not listen to the voices of their advisors and relatives and it is very difficult to change their minds when they are convinced of something. Putin even surpassed Stalin in the customization of your regimen. The former Soviet leader used to give speeches in the first person plural, on behalf of the country: “We will shoot them,” he said. While the current head of the Kremlin is inclined to take a more personal and individual position: “My actions were the right ones at the right time”responded when asked about the decision to invade Ukraine.

Putin also borrowed from the Soviet dictator his way of dealing with his own regime. In his last years on visa, Stalin trusted virtually no one, not even the closest of his inner circle. It was very common to see him discharge his anger against his collaborators, as is the case Vyacheslav Molotov, his long-time foreign minister and deputy. Putin, for his part, has also shown signs of irritability before their relatives. In a televised meeting with his advisers, prior to the invasion of Ukraine, the leader showed alone at his desk in a large columned room, with his advisers relegated to a corner. There he was seen getting angry with his foreign intelligence chief, Sergey Naryshkinafter he confused Russia’s recognition of the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine with their incorporation into Russia.

In that same meeting, Putin was seen conversing badly with Dmitry Kozak, a former collaborator who had been responsible for negotiations with Ukraine on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Coincidence or not, after that meeting Kozak was never seen publicly again..

Vladimir Putin with former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Energy Minister Alexander Novak at the launch ceremony for Gazprom's Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China
Vladimir Putin with former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Kozak and Energy Minister Alexander Novak at the launch ceremony of Gazprom’s Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China (SPUTNIK/)

Another of the lessons taken by Putin from his idol is the conviction that the use of military force is the only way to solve problems. Just before the start of World War II, Stalin was unable to obtain Finland the territorial concessions he wanted, so he decided to start a invasion with the aim of seizing parts of the territory that it considered strategically important as a buffer zone in case of an attack on its own country, Kolesnikov says. Like Putin with the Ukraine, Stalin invented a pretext to launch his invasion and staged a provocation at the border. In this way, he allowed his troops to start a war “legitimately”.

Both leaders misled their people by claiming the existence of an enemy troop buildup that never existed. However, they fell into the same error: underestimate the resistance of the invaded people.

alone in power

In a country without democracy, Putin has failed to create a power transfer mechanism, since, like Stalin, has no intention of giving up to the. Thus, Russia is trapped in a vicious circle, Kolesnikov argues.

A Russian Communist Party supporter stands next to a portrait of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during a May Day rally in Moscow, Russia, May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File
A supporter of the Russian Communist Party stands next to a portrait of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during a May Day rally in Moscow, Russia, May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File (MAXIM SHEMETOV/)

Like Stalin’s Soviet Union, Russia today seems to have no alternative to Putin. That translates to no alternative path and in the futility of an opposition. As with Stalin, the Russian elites will simply have to wait for Putin meets his end. That is why your health matters so much. In Soviet times, the state of health of the leaders was less known, but those closest to them knew that it was not good.

Putin, to his 70 years, could follow a similar path. In part, he has already done so, especially at the regional level, where he has given the governorships to young people loyal to him. Although he is close to Stalin’s age at the time of his death (74 years), it is seen more healthy and strong. But at the same time, he must learn a lesson from Stalin: hate and fear of your circle can be counterproductive. Stalin experienced it first hand when he suffered his last stroke. In the hours when he could possibly still be saved, his collaborators they did not come to his aid and ended up dying practically alone. Today Putin seems stronger, but it is not clear who could save him if he were to lose that strength.

Keep reading:

Putin is not Stalin

Stephen Kotkin, Stalin’s biographer: “Today in Russia there is an autocrat in power who makes decisions completely alone”

Alone, abandoned and terrified: this is how Stalin died, the bloody dictator whom Putin wants to imitate