By Paul Goble
With each fresh Russian defeat and each Ukrainian victory, with each new imposition of Western sanctions and each new economic downturn at home, the prospects that the Russian elite will overthrow Vladimir Putin have increased, from almost a complete impossibility before he launched his massive invasion of Ukraine to a more realistic one now, Igor Eidman says.
The Russian sociologist and commentator says “the prospects for the overthrow of Putin which seemed completely impossible six months ago are growing as a result of his suicidal and destructive policies” (unian.net/war/rossiyskiy-sociolog-igor-eydman-okruzhenie-putina-mozhet-sdat-ego-v-gaagu-za-to-chtoby-zapad-ih-prostil-12012360.html).
According to Eidman, not only are a significant number of members of the elite prepared for this but they would even welcome it if it paved the way for a return to the world they inhabited before Putin launched his expanded war on February 24. There are exceptions like Prigozhin and Kadyrov, on the one hand, and Medvedev, on the other. But they are just that: exceptions.
Ordinary officials “have wanted for a long time that this nightmare should end.” But they are afraid to act because of the risks to themselves if they do and the danger that the situation could become even worse. Consequently, “a conspiracy against Putin is possible only when the FSB and possibly the leadership of the Security Council join it.”
Putin naturally fears this because he has always been afraid. That’s why he sticks with old friends because while they may ultimately betray him, he knows them better and feels that is less likely to be the case, Eidman continues. If there is a coup, the plotters may kill him or hand him over to the West for trial in hopes of getting excused themselves.
According to the Russian commentator, after Putin goes, “the Russian empire as ‘a Kremlin-centric state’ with ambitions for world rule will not exist in its current form. There will be a decentralization of the post-Russian space.” Chechnya will certainly go its own way and “possibly it won’t be the only one to do so.”
Those who talk about the collapse of Russia need to remember that this theme is currently being used to unite the Russian people. For those who generally back the regime, the collapse of the country means that “a mess will begin and life will become even worse.” Consequently, they will stick with the devil they know rather than take that risk.