News that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s latter-day tsar, is making plans to cling to power indefinitely comes as no surprise. All the same, it is deeply worrying for Putin’s prey – principally the Russian people and the western democracies.
Putin, 67, has run Russia, as president and prime minister, for 21 years, a feat of political longevity surpassed only by Joseph Stalin. Like Stalin, he has made many enemies and caused untold misery along the way.
Russia under Putin’s grim tutelage has grown notorious for cronyism and corruption on a vast scale, repression of domestic opponents and free speech, and military aggression and disruption abroad.
Again like Stalin, retirement is not a safe option for the ruthless ex-KGB spy who normalised assassination as a modern-day tool of state policy. To yield power would be to invite retribution, legal or physical. [Continue reading…]