The Real Strongmen

The Real Strongmen

by digby

You've probably heard that Vladimir Putin seems to have gone missing. Evidently all of Russia is abuzz with speculation.

This story by Julia Ioffe will give you a feel for what's going on and why they might be keeping it secret even if he's just ill or otherwise indisposed. But her conclusion sent a chill down my spine:

After 15 years in power, Putin has so personalized the system that it becomes increasingly difficult for his subjects to envision a Russia without him. Nearly half of those Russians surveyed in a recent poll said they wanted to see Putin serve a fourth presidential term, starting in 2018. This number had more than doubled from a poll a few months earlier. And it’s not just about vision. Putin’s system of “manual control”—that is, micromanaging the country—has come at the great expense of Russia’s institutions. The only institutions Putin has strengthened are the security services.

Which tells you why Russian liberals are so worried and, strangely, implicitly hoping for Putin’s reappearance. Two weeks ago, one of their main leaders was assassinated. The other one, Alexey Navalny, has basically admitted that the opposition has been neutered and marginalized. And if Putin’s gone, they certainly won’t be the ones to take power. It will be the real strongmen.

So Putin isn't the "Real Strongman"? Good lord...