Russian Economic Reform


Some August reading on Medvedev and Putin

Published on August 08 2011
Posted by: jeff

Some psychological articles  — which are relevant to economic reform — from for reading over the Summer holiday month of August.

(1)   Vladimir Putin’s likely policies, written in March 2000:

The post-USSR chaos in Russia was bound to throw up a leader whose instinct was more authoritarian and nationalistic than Boris Yeltsin. This leader has now arrived. In 1989 Unity was a dirty word, but now both society and Putin want it. In this sense, the desires of Putin and society complement each other in much the same way as did Yeltsin and society a decade earlier. Putin will be seeking to reconstruct some of what Yeltsin sought to destroy. Whereas Yeltsin sought, in his own way, to promote diversity within society and to free the Russian regional governments from the centre, Putin will be aiming for consolidation.

(2)   Putin & Medvedev – Ataturk and Ismet Inonu — written in March 2008:

Psychologically, Medvedev will remain Putin’s servant (as with Inonu, “puppet” is too strong a word) for some time. As Medvedev exercises power he will begin to like it and become less the servant — and, initially at least, Putin is likely to take some pride in Medvedev as a capable (and I think he will be) president. Over time, however, Putin will need to accept various indications of his decline in formal and informal power — and will, at times, have to swallow his pride. However, Putin is not as focused on “self” as Ataturk and will accept this for a time. Nevertheless, tensions will grow.

(3)   Medvedev and Putin and the effect of “power” — written in November 2008:

Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s architect and Armaments Minister, nicely summed it up the effect of prolonged power:

“There is a special trap for every holder of power, whether the director of a company, the head of a state, or the ruler of a dictatorship. His favour is so desirable to his subordinates that they will sue for it by every means possible. Servility becomes endemic among his entourage, who compete among themselves in their show of devotion. This in turn exercises a sway upon the ruler, who becomes corrupted in his turn.”

(4)   Putin “personality cult” — written in December 2009:

Dimitry Medvedev believes that he is the best person to be president after the 2012 presidential elections. But power is as much about the psychological need for power – and, not surprisingly, Putin’s need has grown with time in power – as it is about intellectual analysis. Medvedev’s visual image is very lackluster, and unless he can do something about it in early 2010 – and boost his self-confidence (a la Mao) – he will be “psyched-out” both privately and publicly by Putin.

(5)   Medvedev and Obama — written in March 2010:

While Obama’s team will be continually reminding him of 9/11, Medvedev’s team will be continually reminding him of the disastrous Yeltsin years. Medvedev’s team – which includes Putin – is afraid of loosening the government’s role as society policeman. Medvedev says he wants to strengthen the rule of law, but he appears to be having some issues in his own mind about how to do this without reducing ultimate state power over citizens. He is thus forced into a philosophy of modernization from above (ie “city of the future” project) rather than – more sensibly – providing the conditions to let it emerge from below.

(6)   Putin’s “flaw in the weave” and no “new faces” approach — written in July 2010:

Neither Putin nor Medvedev seem generally inclined to use the “termination” option as a management tool. After the disastrous Yeltsin years, both Putin and Medvedev crave stability in the Russian governmental system. But there is also a difference. Medvedev is probably disinclined to use “termination” because of his intellectual nature which seems to generally focus on the good in people. Putin, however, is clearly more manipulative and inclined to use force. Putin’s reluctance to use the “termination” option can be explained, at least in part, by considering how some historical strong-men have approached this issue.

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