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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 4-Dec-07
Vladimir Putin's party wins Russian Parliamentary election by a landslide

Web Log - December, 2007

Vladimir Putin's party wins Russian Parliamentary election by a landslide

How does Putin's "cult of personality" work?

Election results <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: WSJ)</font>
Election results (Source: WSJ)

The phrase "cult of personality" is being applied to Vladimir Putin today after the party he leads won a landslide victory in Parliamentary elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin comes out to meet the enthusiastic crowds after his party's victory <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Russian President Vladimir Putin comes out to meet the enthusiastic crowds after his party's victory (Source: CNN)

The election appears to have been widely corrupted. The television airwaves were flooded with political ads for Putin's party, United Russia, but no opposition parties were permitted to advertise at all. Opposition parties were harassed, and there was no international monitoring during the actual vote.

In Chechnya, where Putin waged war against the people for a few years, the vote was 99.3% in favor of Putin's United Russia party. And so, it seems likely that Putin controlled this election.

There are few people who doubt that, one way or another, Putin is going to retain absolute power after his term as President expires early next year.

Putin is not eligible to run for President again under the Russian Constitution, and he's previously promised not to try to amend the Constitution so that he can run again.

It's been the subject of widespread speculation for a couple of years how Putin would manage to stay in power, assuming he kept his promise.

We can now see several possible scenarios:

Crowds of young people spontaneously celebrate Putin's victory <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Crowds of young people spontaneously celebrate Putin's victory (Source: BBC)

One thing that everyone seems to agree on is that it doesn't really make any difference which of these scenarios Putin chooses, since Putin is so popular with the Russian people that they want him to retain power by whatever means he desires.

Related Articles

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Now we know - Baikal is a neighborhood liquor store: High comedy continued on Monday, as Russian officials stonewalled... (20-Dec-04)
After a week of high comedy, who the heck is Baikal?: Baikal Finance Group, an unknown company with unknown backers, is the new owner of Yukos'... (19-Dec-04)
Ukraine headed for a confrontation with Putin : Ukraine is headed for trouble as it moves to reverse the 20-Nov Presidential election. (28-Nov-2004)
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Kremlin backs down and hires Dresdner to evaluate Yukos subsidiary: Russia's ping-pong nationalization of Yukos appears to have ponged back in the direction of sanity,... (13-Aug-04)
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Yukos freeze order rescinded after worldwide oil prices soar to all time high.: The Kremlin's ham-handed treatment of Yukos brings memories of its Communist days,... (29-Jul-04)
Kremlin orders Yukos to stop selling oil.: Oil prices spiking today to $42 per barrel as the worst possible scenario unfolds in Russia.... (28-Jul-04)
Yukos: Bankruptcy is near: The Kremlin is stonewalling Yukos and preparing to nationalize its major asset... (22-Jul-04)
I wish we knew more about Putin's plans for Yukos: The gathering crisis for Russia's oil giant Yukos threatens both Russia's economic stability and world oil prices.... (6-Jul-04)

Long time web site readers may recall that back in 2004 I followed the situation with Yukos pretty closely.

In 2003, Yukos supplied 11.4% of all the oil in the whole world. By the end of 2004, Yukos was defunct.

At the beginning of 2004, Putin was denying that he had any evil intentions toward Yukos. Putin began by jailing Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on trumped-up political charges. (He's still in jail, incidentally.) By the end of the year, Yukos had been dismantled and nationalized by means of the vilest series of steps imaginable.

At the beginning of 2004, I was wondering what Putin had in mind. By the end of the year, it was obvious that Putin had lied about his intentions, and that he was willing to use any means available to him to get what he wants, while still retaining personal deniability.

At the beginning of the year, I was wondering if Putin was trying to emulate Nicolai Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov), and I quoted this 1922 memo to the Politburo on the destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church in order to harvest the Church's wealth:

"We must pursue the removal of church property by any means necessary in order to secure for ourselves a fund of several hundred million gold rubles (do not forget the immense wealth of some monasteries and lauras). Without this fund any government work in general, any economic build-up in particular, and any upholding of soviet principles in Genoa especially is completely unthinkable. In order to get our hands on this fund of several hundred million gold rubles (and perhaps even several hundred billion), we must do whatever is necessary. But to do this successfully is possible only now. All considerations indicate that later on we will fail to do this, for no other time, besides that of desperate famine, will give us such a mood among the general mass of peasants that would ensure us the sympathy of this group, or, at least, would ensure us the neutralization of this group in the sense that victory in the struggle for the removal of church property unquestionably and completely will be on our side."

By the end of the year, it was obvious that Putin was much more politically subtle than Lenin, but just as ruthless.

During the entire Soviet era, the Communist leaders were free to take anything they wanted and keep it for themselves. The "reason" is that there's "no private property" under Communism, which is the excuse that Communist leaders used to justify taking what they want. This had been the entire Russian culture since the 1920s.

After Putin used extortion and fraud to take Yukos in 2004, Putin has also managed to extort the Sakhalin Island project from Royal Dutch Shell in 2006, as well as an ExxonMobil project, and a BP project in the Kovykta gas field in 2007.

Various political enemies have been knocked off mysteriously -- murdered or jailed. Sunday's election appears to be the same -- Putin ran the whole show. The same thing happens over and over again: Putin's enemies die, and Putin takes what he wants. It always ends up the same way, even thought there's never any ironclad proof, and Putin always has deniability.

The question that I'm asking is how these two things are related:

Putin's steel-hard determination to take anything he wants

  • The cult-like adoration that the Russian people feel for Putin.
  • The adoration for Putin very much has a generational feel to it, as Russia goes deeper into a generational Crisis era.

    There are only two other leaders that I can think of that have generated similar adoration: FDR and Hitler.

    Now, I'm NOT saying that FDR was as ruthless as Putin or Hitler, and I'm not saying that Putin is (yet) as ruthless as Hitler (or Lenin).

    In fact, the point is that the three of them are so different, but generate what appears to be the same strong cult-like adoration from a large part of the population that they want them to stay unconditionally in power, even if extraordinary means are required. Hitler was enormously popular in Germany, and Roosevelt was so popular in the US that he was the only President to be elected for more than two terms, even when he was near death.

    By contrast, George Bush doesn't generate that kind of loyalty today, and Winston Churchill didn't generate that kind of loyalty until WW II actually began.

    There is one major thing that all three appear to have in common: In all three cases, they came to power at the time of a major financial crisis. Putin is viewed as saving the Russian economy after Yeltsin destroyed it in the 1990s, Roosevelt is viewed as having saved the American economy after three years of economic collapse, and Hitler was viewed as saving the German economy after massive bank failures occurred in 1931.

    An additional possibility is that they may be examples of the "Hero/Prophet" relationship that develops as a country goes deeper into a generational Crisis era. As I wrote last year, analyzing the July 7, 2005, London subway bombings, many of Britain's young Muslims have set up a "Hero/Prophet" relationship with the radical clerics in Pakistan. It's possible that the young people of Russia have "selected" Putin as their choice for the person in the generational "Prophet" archetype to lead them through the Crisis era.

    As we approach the Clash of Civilizations world war, we have no way of knowing who will lead America through this war, and the same is true for Britain, China, and many other countries. But it appears that we have a pretty good idea who will lead Russia through the Clash of Civilizations world war: Russia's current President, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. (4-Dec-07) Permanent Link
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