Is Putin building modern liberal democracy in Russia?


New member
May 15, 2014
Not sure if this belongs here or in R&P, so I'll just leave it here since it's not entirely serious.

So, I had this idea a while back:

Putin is, apparently, a well-educated, ruthless ruler. Yet, at the same time, some of his policies, such as the invasion of Ukraine, (alleged) meddling in US elections, conspicuous assassinations on foreign soil, supporting a dying regime with a penchant for WMD use or the weirdness that is nationally televised fromagicide [] seem to be downright theatrical in that they appear to accomplish little in terms of lasting benefits to Russia, while simultaneously being highly visible, both in the country and abroad. As I were wondering if a man, who has by all accounts, made it his mission to restore Russia into a USSR-like power could not achieve more towards that goal by acting with greater subtlety, I remembered this video [] and its explanation of a political idea of "keys to power".
It's a way of thinking about de facto political power as stemming from a variety of sources ("keys to power") - those could be as obvious as popular support, which is supposed to be the main "key" in modern democracy, but also support of lobbyists and financial elites, who can shape public opinion and provide funding for other aspects of political activity, it's the support of army command, police and intelligence forces the judiciary organs and perhaps even general administration if either of those are politicized... The notion is, that value of different keys depends on a society and its political culture and the keys a government relies on, shape the nature of the regime - so for instance a democracy will rely primarily on public opinion, whereas a dictatorship can supplement lacking public support with loyal army and secret police (possibly paying those off thanks to elevated taxes). Problem is, regardless of the regime, stable government needs to hold more keys (or more overall value in keys, since they're not all equal) than any possible competitor - otherwise, such a competitor is posed to usurp power.

How does this pertain to Putin? The man came to power in 1999, in the wake of a major financial crisis [], that eroded the trust in parliamentary democracy that promised to bring Russia up to par with western countries by westernizing it and reignited nostalgia for the USSR era. As such, it seems, at least in hindsight, that anyone who wanted to have a chance at political success at the time, would have had to channel the popular perception of Stalin as an enlightened tyrant, willing to enact exceptionally harsh measures for the good of the state, whether this act was a genuine attempt at copying one of history's most egregious monsters, or just an act to seize a weighty key to power.

Why wouldn't Putin be genuine though? To put it simply, he held a high ranking position in the KGB's twilight years and so, he had to know better than anyone else, how close we came, repeatedly, to nuclear annihilation [] (I recall seeing a list mentioned with like 80 or so incidents, but I can't find the url right now), not to mention direct confrontation was likely discussed [] by top Communist Party members as a possible alternative to dissolving the USSR during Putin's tenure.

Allowing a Stalinist "true believer" to come into power would mean not only repeating the same risks present during the Cold War and its conclusion, but also potentially exacerbate them since as I understand it, FSB doesn't necessarily have the political influence KGB was rumoured to have (I may be wrong on this of course, neither am I an expert in the field, nor is political influence of intelligence agencies a very transparent subject), which could let them try and defuse a situation on a political level, not to mention this would happen in a more complicated geopolitical situation, where it would no longer be a contest between USSR/Russia and USA, but a three way struggle also including China.

With this, someone in Putin's position, assuming he wanted to avoid a nuclear Holocaust, would have to assume a Stalinist persona and embody it so perfectly, while also engineering their own fall, that they could drag the whole neo-Soviet concept down with them, in a convoluted political murder-suicide.

How does Putin commit political suicide now though, if he's so popular? As you may remember, the fall of USSR (and more importantly, the fall of its popular support in Russia in the 80s) has been a result of economic shortages. Putin's current actions seem ineffectual at rebuilding the USSR, while at the same time cementing his image as a neo-Stalinist icon and baiting sanctions from the West. Of course, these sanctions don't, in and of themselves, immediately achieve the same results as years of running economy into the ground in an unworkable system. If only there was a way to somehow exacerbate the issue in a way felt in day to day life by all Russians, say by starting an economic war in response to the sanctions and emphasizing, in a very public, propaganda-ish fashion [] the detrimental effects of said economic war... Oops, did I use the same link twice?

Anyway, don't, like, repost this too much, especially on Russian websites - gotta let P-man keep his cover.

So, here you have it:
tl;dr - Putin is building liberal democracy in Russia by means of a political murder-suicide to prevent a nuclear war as evidenced by him bulldozing cheese.