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When Putin Retires...


Return of the Traditional State


To a large extent, the president has met the expectations of society to maintain stability and do away with revolutions, cataclysmic changes, personnel purges, and so on. The Russian people, tired of the chaos and injustice of Yeltsins rule, and the socially dependent sectors of the population in particular (i.e., those groups, such as budget sector workers or pensioners, who rely heavily on the support of the state), have felt improvements in their socioeconomic situation: wages and pensions are regularly indexed to keep up with inflation, and social policies are now given greater priority in line with Russian traditions. 

Putin matreshka doll. Photo: ITAR-TASS

The development of the political system under Putin seems to have revived certain characteristics typical of the traditional Russian state. The prerogatives of the Russian leader be it Moscow prince, all-Russian tsar, or Soviet general secretary have traditionally been vast and autocratic and have also been hostile to pluralism.

The worship of the leader is also an engrained Russian tradition and a need, which apparently is deeply entrenched in the Russian mentality. Even the suffering inflicted during the years of Stalins cult has not provided sufficient immunity against a revival of attitudes of adulation and deference toward the supreme leader.

Putin and his circle readily draw on these traditions and public attitudes in their efforts to reclaim the state. Analysts comment on the first signs of the leaders cult that became noticeable as the country marked the first anniversary of Putins inauguration. Books and brochures devoted to the president or describing the childhood years of little Volodya (diminutive for Vladimir) have saturated bookstores and newsstands. His portraits are produced in every desired format: one for the desk, another for the wall, and still others for official receptions.

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