Staunton, December 31 – “Russia is living through the end of the Putin cycle,” Aleksandr Dugin says, and consequently, “even if Putin will come back, his return will not automatically decide anything.” Instead, the Eurasianist commentator says, that step “will be not an answer but a new question.”
In an essay on the Evrazia site today, Dugin says that he along with many others feel that “together with the end of 2010 is ending a definite cycle in Russian politics” and that while those in power seek to “give the impression that all is as before,” this “does not convince anyone” that things are not shifting in a fundamental way (http://evrazia.org/article/1545).
Dugin begins with the assertion that “the power of Yeltsin in the 1990s was illegitimate” and that Vladimir Putin ultimately legitimized his position by taking steps like preventing the disintegration of Russia, building the vertical of power, driving the oligarchs out of politics, and strengthening the siloviki.
These steps “satisfied the majority” and made Putin “legitimate” both in comparison with Yeltsin and on his own. At the same time, however, Dugin argues that in comparison with Yeltsin, Putin turned only “90 degrees and not 180.” He stopped a process but he did not “turn onto a new direction.”
That was enough for the early 1990s and it is enough for those in Putin’s entourage who even now talk about preserving the status quo. But in fact, Dugin suggests, the last time Putin could have continued on that basis was in 2008 when he could have become “a ‘Russian Lukashenka, whom the masses would have loved, the elites feared, and the West hated.”
Instead, Putin “preferred to act differently” and to hand over the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev. “That meant the end” or at least the beginning of the end of the Putin cycle because it was “intended as a step toward liberalism, the West and the oligarchy” rather than a true continuation of what Putin had been doing up to then.
In the Russian system today, Dugin says, there are three “politological zones,” which he designates as “Russia-1,” “Russia-2,” and “Russia-3.” The first of these supports a continuation of the Putin compromise, something that is clearly impossible and would not be sustained even by Putin’s repudiation of Medvedev’s current approach.
The second, the Eurasian leader says, involves “pure Westernism, liberalism and reformism in the Yeltsin spirit” and seeks “modernization, democratization, rapprochement with the West, globalization and the destruction of the Putin vertical.” In short, Russia-2 is “the orange field.”
The third, Dugin says, is “the much less well-formed ideologically and organizationally position of the popular masses of Russia who are drawn to order, a strong power, social defense, nationalism and patriotism” and who don’t like “the Westernization of Russian society.” It is “an enormous social base but does not have in practice any political representation.”
Under Putin, the Russian political system was “dominated by Russia-1,” which situated itself between the “orange” Russia-2 and the “black” Russia-3. That ended with the emergence of the tandem in 2008, Dugin says, when a “gray” Russia emerged, given that Medvedev adopted a position between the “gray” compromise of the Putin system and the “orange” one of Russia-2.
Medvedev’s trajectory, the Eurasianist continues, is “from the gray toward the orange, and ir remains only to guess to what point it will go on this path.” One can “easily foresee” that it will lead to “the territorial disintegration of Russia, the sharpening of civil conflict, a revenge of the liberals, and a sharp decline in the importance of Russia in the international sphere.”
As for Putin, Dugin says, the former president should “logically” move in the direction of Russia-3 or “the black segment.” But “Putin is not moving in this direction and occupies precisely that place which he occupied earlier – in the middle of the gray zone.” And that points to a serious problem.
Putin, Dugin says, faces “a serious problem – the context [within which he must act ] has changed, but the forms of his political thought have remained the same.” In short, he has not adapted, and that in turn means that Putin is simply marking time, something that does not work to his benefit as Russia continues to evolve.
“Before our eyes,” the Eurasian leader argues, “the process of the disaggregation of the existing political system of Russia will begin in 2011: the zone of the gray segment will continually be reduced in size, while the ‘orange’ and the ‘gray’ (Russia-2 and Russia-3) will gather force.”
Consequently, Dugin says, “already now the split of the tandem cannot become aa real political event and enliven political processes.” And that in turn reflects the new reality that Putin’s “dominant” gray zone “has exhausted its resources. One must look beyond its borders.” Putin hasn’t done so, and unless he changes, his return by itself would not solve anything.