“Putin will have no choice but to do everything Joseph Stalin did”
19 March, 2015
Silent Panic in Moscow and a Bulldog Fight Under the Rug in the Kremlin

“Will Putin’s return be followed by Prime Minister Medvedev’s forced resignation?”

As Putin’s friends claim semi-ironically, disappearing for a long time is not among his habits. The silence that accompanied his disappearance was especially unsettling, especially in the media, which kept matter-of-factly broadcasting news about Ukraine, Kazakhstan and fire at one of local churches. It seemed as if the country never had a president to begin
with. Meanwhile, military vehicles were crowding the capital’s streets and people were vanishing. The panic reached its peak, but nobody dared ask the question that was on the tip of everyone’s collective tongue. According to Maxim Kuznetsov, an employee of Domodedovo Airport, the recent days saw a large-scale departure of high-ranking officials from the country.

“The main goal is to avoid internal turmoil. With this issue settled, the Russian population will wordlessly submit to any government, no matter how tyrannical.”

Residents of Moscow dubbed the events the “silent panic.” People were stocking up on food and medicine, but any questions about what they were preparing for were met with wild looks and fear-saturated silence.

Ilia Kmurin, legal advocate:

– Sad, but true: the main goal is to avoid internal turmoil. With this issue settled, the Russian population will wordlessly submit to any government, no matter how tyrannical. “If not Putin, then who?” they ask dissenters. Despite the wave of silent panic being accompanied by a wave of inflation, with many goods, including basic necessity ones, becoming even more expensive, people continue to meekly carry on and endure. They are afraid that a protest would be followed by internal strife, which will be used by pro-American forces that, according to state media, lurk behind every corner, to make the situation completely uncontrollable.
The Kremlin can also use this taciturn unity as a shield from any external criticism. Many people realize that Putin’s official visit to St. Petersburg and officials’ reassuring statements regarding the panic are just a dog and pony show. In reality, there exists a real danger to the current government – the pressure directed at the opposition, publicists and the general society is immense. This is definitely a beginning of something.

Dmitry Oreshkin, political scientist:
– The current developments are unusual for Putin, because he is used to keeping everyone around him dominated and beaten into submission. He enjoys always having a multitude of opportunities at his disposal and choosing the most suitable one for the situation. However, this was not the case with Nemtsov’s murder; his death was followed by an uproar. Now the events have unfolded in such a fashion that Putin has no choice but to destroy anyone from his entourage who stands or can stand in his way because he knows full well that the only outcome that awaits him otherwise is a noose.
People who are against him will be either swept aside or left behind. Stalin used to call them saboteurs, and there are plenty of them today – people who will try to convert their savings from rubles into dollars, transfer them away from the country and follow suit together with their families, because no one wants to live in North Korea. This process has already begun and such people are a very unpleasant wrench in Putin’s works.

– What do you think will happen?

– Well, if the choice is made in favor of Russia’s complete isolation with the purpose of building a “better, brighter future,” then a purging of the elites and a witch hunt for “enemies of the people” will become necessary. Putin will have no choice but to do everything Joseph Stalin did.
The other possible way is Putin himself deciding to stop and talk things out with the West instead. However, in this case he will have to somehow rein in the people who worship him as a “great leader” and are itching to start the purges themselves.
During this 10-day-long “time-out,” Putin was planning and making fateful decisions, which I doubt are going to be sensible. He is under the delusion of doing everything right and well, while all he actually does is use the previous government’s achievements such as a market-driven economy, solid exchange rate of the ruble, Western investments and so on. Now all these resources have been exhausted and Putin is in hot water, but he staunchly believes that he was dragged into it by his enemies.
It is rumored that Putin’s return will be followed by Prime Minister Medvedev being replaced with Sergei Ivanov, current head of presidential administration, in his stead. Someone is going to be done away with, that’s for certain. We can guess the decisions he has made (or was forced to make) judging by whom he removes.
The fact is that the current tranquility is artificial and the bubble is actually about to burst. Sooner or later, Putin will have to explain the worsening of the quality of life that has been felt by virtually everyone in the country. However, I think that he will resort to his usual narrative of “we are surrounded by enemies,” “NATO bases are everywhere,” “We are under attack,” “The bloodthirsty Kievan junta tries to subjugate us,” and “We need to unite around the Great Leader and go on the offensive.” Actually, I don’t have the slightest sliver of doubt that it will happen exactly as I described.