Dictators are known to be overthrown through a popular uprising or in a coup d’etat. Just a month ago Vladimir Putin maintain good operating mode. Except for the shocks, he can rest assured to wait many years in office. But with the invasion of Ukraine he opened a Pandora’s box with his own hands. All bets are now off. However, while he cannot be ruled out, a palace coup is unlikely in the near future.
It is true that an internal coup remains the most common reason for the downfall of dictators worldwide. In the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev was overthrown in 1964 in a bloodless coup. In fact, paralleling Putin’s strategic blunder towards Ukraine, one of the reasons Khrushchev was removed was because of his miscalculation that led to the previous Cuban missile crisis. So why is Putin’s removal still unlikely?
This is because at its core, Putin’s regime is not like Yeltsin’s 1990s regime or Khrushchev’s collective leadership regime, but Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship. Yes, unlike Stalin, Putin carried out a more selective crackdown, with no such personality cult. – people are now relying on social media, not Pravda editorials. But the important thing is that after Stalin’s death in 1953, all the leaders – until Putin – there are other elite organizations or groups for reference and debate. The Soviet heads made a joint decision on the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. But Stalin could make his policy decisions unilaterally, and so could Putin.
There is no doubt that Putin’s insides, technocrats, oligarchs and even many in the siloviki (military and security) circles are in shock over his decision to wage war. grandfather. They feel betrayed and fear for their future. Before Moscow’s Echo radio station (known for some degree of editorial independence) was shut down last week, it reported that many officials – including cabinet ministers and heads of state-owned companies – anonymously confirmed that they were not consulted and had no game plans. The company and their reputation were ruined. But they are also afraid to resign. A single act of resignation is tantamount to betrayal and may be dealt with accordingly.
Roman Abramovich’s recent offer to mediate is pointless: he has no access and is probably just desperate to avoid personal sanctions. The richest individuals with close ties to Putin, aka the oligarchs, have long since lost influence over their men. Putin is not their man. He has them under control.
In December 2021, Gennady Timchenko, an untouchable billionaire with a shared personal profile with Putin, was publicly humiliated by a district court judge who kept him waiting and then talk to him. That was unthinkable under the “primitive” Putin.
If not technocrats or oligarchs, can gunmen, fools, influence Putin or even eliminate him? Recently, several Western media outlets have speculated that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is capable of leading a coup. The reasons for raising Shoigu, who was skilled in prudence and survived in the palace are legendary, unclear except perhaps a general assumption that any decent coup should have a minister. defense participation.
Coups tend to be carried out by or with the direct approval of the military. But it was hard to imagine someone like Shoigu leading a coup d’etat. Shoigu, after a long career as minister of emergencies (a Russian FEMA), was promoted to a four-star general despite never having served in the military. The officers noticed such things. It’s hard to dictate when you haven’t even gone through a basic bootcamp.
Second, in contrast to my Turkish, Thai or Argentine counterparts, I suspect the Russian military simply lacks the “know-how” to run a successful coup. An attempted coup in August 1991 was an exercise in impotence. Furthermore, the FSB security service has officers who join the army.
Even under the best of circumstances, coups are difficult to execute. They require coordination and trust among the plotters, and one mistake can cause an entire business to fall apart.
Before February 24, if Putin wanted to retire, conflicting interests could have agreed on someone like Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin as his successor. Now, under an increasingly paranoid Putin, it’s hard to see how they can meet, communicate, bargain over Putin’s replacement without his knowledge. Putin can rely on his well-functioning security apparatus. His closest associate from the 1970s Leningrad KGB, Alexander Bortnikov, headed the FSB. Bortnikov is as hawkish as Putin. Under him, the FSB had better access, resources and status than the KGB. Even as Russia falls into economic ruin and a new Iron Curtain emerges, many of the siloviki might even achieve something.
Putin is also difficult to reach. In 2016, he established the Praetorian-like National Guard under his direct command, with Zolotov, his personal bodyguard since the 1990s, at the helm. The president’s personal protection detail, the FSO, is much larger and much better resourced than the KGB’s 9th board of directors (responsible for protecting party officials). Its officers provide staff for regional governors and ministerial posts; FSO even conducts its own opinion surveys – which sounds odd.
The forceful removal of an individual dictator almost always leads to the downfall of the regime. Without him, things would probably fall apart for the inner rings. All of these officials, and the organizations they head, will lose the most if Putin goes.
This is not to say that suspicions do not grow even among those with guns. Last week, there was a leaked report from an unidentified FSB officer (and therefore it should be assessed as salt in the water), which expressed a very negative emotion about war and mood. in the ranks. At the same time, siloviki also understand that they are on the same boat, and not just a boat but a submarine.
But as Casey Stengel of the New York Yankees put it, “Never predict anything, especially the future.” People in Russia talk, if not always in person. The keyword in the online media seems to be “snuffbox”. In Russia, a country obsessed with its history, this allusion is clear. When Tsar Paul I was assassinated in 1801, the final blow came from a cigarette case. Every student knows this from history class. Two days ago, a simple online neighborhood search for “Putin” and “snuffbox” gave thousands of hits.
Alexander Baturo is an associate professor of government at Dublin City University. He is the co-author of ‘The New Kremlinology: Understanding Regime Individualization’ (Oxford, 2021)
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/vladimir-putin-has-rigged-the-game-against-any-coup-to-remove-him-41440147.html Vladimir Putin rigged the game against any coup to get rid of him