We just reached the half-way mark of Putin’s third term as President of Russia. Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky’s talked to Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia about what has happened in past 3 years, and where Russia under Putin is headed in the next few years.
Interviewer: Is it possible to talk about the worst fears coming true in connection with Putin’s return to the presidency.
Belkovsky: My worst fears have not been confirmed. My worst fear is nuclear war. It still has not happened yet, but it is possible. Now Putin considers himself the greatest statesman alive today, and the greatest figure in Russian history; previously, he did not see himself this way.
This is the natural result of the enormous adulation that accompanied him throughout the first half of the current presidential term, and generally over the 15 years of his stay in power. Moreover, this flattery did not just come from his friends and admirers, but in fact from his enemies, who criticised Putin, but this only strengthened his understanding of his own greatness. I’ve been trying for many years to bring attention to this unhealthy trend, but Putin’s opponents continued to praise him through the negative.
Interviewer: Has this led to the fact of Putin becoming a war president?
Belkovsky: Yes, Putin, I think, absolutely lost faith in the possibility of settling in Russia some peaceful life of the European model, but when he came to power in 2000 he made a bet on just that — the gradual accession of Russia to the EU & NATO. But since it was not possible to organize a peaceful life in Russia, then we must live a military life, and Putin is absolutely ready for this. And I think that the idea of death for him is now predominant, so anything is possible, and we have not yet lived through the worst.
Interviewer: Will Putin hold onto power until the very end?
Belkovsky: Putin does not believe that he is clinging to power because he is convinced that his power is not in danger. He has loyal people, he has loyal troops whose number is about 2 million people, his power in Russia is secure. And Putin looks into the face of death with eyes wide open…. And Putin is ready to die with Russia because, as we know, in accordance with some modern doctrines, Russia and Putin are one.