IAS Target

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

Putinism “the Ideology that put fear into West”

Vladimir Putin, full name Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, (born October 7, 1952, in Leningrad, Russia, USSR [now St. Petersburg, Russia]), served Russian military, Russian intelligence officer, and politician who served as Russia's president and prime minister (1999–2008, 2012–).

Prior career

Putin was a law student at Leningrad State University, where he was tutored by Anatoly Sobchak, who went on to become one of the perestroika period's major reform politicians. Putin was a foreign intelligence officer with the KGB (Committee for State Security) for 15 years, including six years in Dresden, East Germany. In 1990, he retired from KGB service as a lieutenant colonel and returned to Russia to become the protector of Leningrad State University, where he was in charge of the institution's external contacts. Putin became an adviser to Sobchak, St. Petersburg's first democratically elected mayor soon after. He rapidly gained Sobchak's trust and gained a reputation for his ability to get things done; by 1994, he had ascended to the position of first deputy mayor.
Putin relocated to Moscow in 1996 and joined the presidential staff as a deputy to Pavel Borodin, the Kremlin's chief administrator. Putin became close to fellow Leningrader Anatoly Chubais and rose through the administrative ranks. Vladimir Putin was appointed director of the Federal Security Service (FSB; the domestic successor to the KGB) by President Boris Yeltsin in July 1998, and he soon became secretary of the important Security Council. Vladimir Putin was declared prime minister in 1999 by Yeltsin, who was looking for an heir to take his place.
Despite his relative obscurity, Putin's popularity skyrocketed when he started a well-organized military operation in Chechnya against secessionist militants. Weary of Yeltsin's erratic behavior, the Russian people admired Putin's calmness and decisiveness under duress. Putin's backing for a new electoral alliance, Unity, assured its success in the legislative elections in December.

1st and 2nd terms as president of Russia

Yeltsin surprisingly resigned on December 31, 1999, and Putin was named acting president. The austere and restrained Putin easily won the March 2000 elections with almost per content of the vote, promising to rebuild a weakened Russia. As president, he worked to eliminate corruption and establish a tightly controlled market economy.
Putin soon reclaimed control of Russia's 89 regions and republics, splitting them into seven new federal districts, each led by a president-appointed delegate. He also revoked regional governors' privilege to sit in the Federation Council, Russia's upper chamber of parliament. Putin took steps to limit the authority of Russia's unpopular financiers and media tycoons, known as "oligarchs," by closing many media outlets and initiating criminal procedures against several key players. In Chechnya, he faced a difficult situation, especially from rebels who launched terrorist attacks in Moscow and guerilla attacks on Russian forces from the region's mountains; in 2002, Putin declared the military war to be over, despite the fact that casualties remained high.
Putin was infuriated by then-US President George W. Bush's decision in 2001 to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In a friendly gesture to September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, he offered Russia's assistance and collaboration in the US-led battle against terrorists and their allies, offering the use of Russian airspace for humanitarian deliveries and assistance in search-and-rescue operations. Nonetheless, in 2002–03, Putin supported German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac in opposing US and British proposals to use force to depose Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq.
Putin was easily reelected in March 2004, presiding over an economy that had recovered from a severe recession in the 1990s. In the December 2007 parliamentary elections, Putin's United Russia party secured an overwhelming majority of seats. Despite international observers and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation questioning the legitimacy of the elections, the results confirmed Putin's control. When a constitutional clause forced Putin to resign in 2008, he appointed Dmitry Medvedev as his successor.

The third presidential term of Vladimir Putin

Putin's first year as president was marked by a largely successful attempt to quell the protest movement. Opposition leaders were imprisoned, and nongovernmental organizations that received international funds were branded as "foreign agents." Tensions with the US erupted in June 2013, when former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden sought sanctuary in Russia after revealing the existence of several classified NSA programs. Snowden was allowed to stay in Russia on the condition that he refrain from "causing harm to our American partners," as Putin put it. Following chemical weapons incidents near Damascus in August 2013, the United States advanced the case for military action in Syria's civil war. According to a New York Times editorial, Putin encouraged patience, and US and Russian officials worked out a plan to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
In December 2013, Putin marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the post-Soviet constitution by ordering the release of over 25,000 people from Russian prisons. Separately, Putin pardoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former CEO of the Yukos oil firm who had been imprisoned for more than a decade on accusations that many outside Russia felt were politically motivated.

Fourth presidential term

Salisbury novichok attack and friendship with USA President Trump
As of March 2018, when the USA presidential election approached, it appeared like Putin would easily win a fourth presidential term. Navalny, the opposition's face, was forbidden from competing, while the Communist candidate, Pavel Grudinin, was constantly chastised by the state-run media. Two weeks before the election, Putin was the subject of a huge international incident when Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer convicted of spying for Britain but released as part of a prisoner swap, was discovered unconscious with his daughter in Salisbury, England. The power was allegedly subjected to a "novichok," a sophisticated nerve toxin manufactured by the Soviets, according to investigators. British officials accused Putin of ordering the strike, and British Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed almost two dozen Russian intelligence personnel working under diplomatic cover in the country.
When Russians voted to the polls on March 18, 2018, the diplomatic conflict had not subsided. The date coincided with the fourth anniversary of Russia's violent annexation of the Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea, an act that boosted Putin's domestic popularity. Putin claimed a massive majority of the vote, as expected, in an election regarded as replete with irregularities by the independent monitoring agency Golos. Putin had hoped for a bigger turnout than in his 2012 election triumph, and ballot tampering was found in several areas. Putin's campaign called the outcome an "amazing win."
On July 16, 2018, Putin met with Trump in Helsinki, Finland, coming off the triumph of Russia's well-received hosting of the World Cup football championship. In 2017, the two met at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Hamburg, Germany, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, but this was their first formal one-on-one meeting. It came after Trump's tour to Europe, during which he strained relations with the US' traditional European allies. Although some observers questioned Trump's ability to hold his own in negotiations with an opponent as experienced and wary as Putin, Trump stated that he believed his meeting with Putin would be the "easiest" of his trip.

Silencing critics and actions in the West

On February 27, 2015, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was assassinated outside the Kremlin, only days after speaking out against Russian engagement in Ukraine. Nemtsov was the most recent Putin critic to be slain or killed under questionable circumstances. A British public investigation officially accused Putin of the 2006 death of former Federal Security Service (FSB; the successor to the KGB) officer Alexander Litvinenko in January 2016. Litvinenko, who had spoken out against Russian government ties to organized crime both before and after defecting to the UK, was poisoned with polonium-210 at a London hotel bar while having tea. Britain ordered the extradition of the two men accused of carrying out the assassination, but both denied involvement, and one of them, Andrey Lugovoy, had subsequently been elected to the Duma and had parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
Aleksey Navalny, an opposition activist who rose to prominence as a leader of the 2011 protest movement, was frequently imprisoned on politically motivated accusations, according to supporters. Navalny finished second in the Moscow mayoral election in 2013, but his Progress Party was barred from running in consecutive elections due to procedural issues. Voter turnout in the September 2016 legislative election was 47.8 %, the lowest since the Soviet Union's demise. Voter disinterest was linked to Putin's consistent implementation of so-called "managed democracy," a system in which core democratic structures and procedures were maintained but election outcomes were largely predetermined. Putin's United Russia party declared victory, although election observers found numerous irregularities, including ballot stuffing and multiple voting. Because of its registration status, Navalny's party was unable to run any candidates, while Nemtsov's PARNAS received less than 1% of the vote.
The Russian president's historic speeches, interviews, and policies draw significantly on the works of great Russian philosophers from Peter the Great through Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. They present compelling ideas of strong leaders and the Russian nation, emphasizing conservatism and the Slavic character. They base morality on Orthodoxy and Russian identity on the country's long conflict with the West.
Putin now handles and manipulates those same notions in his 'protection' of 130 million ethnic Russians against the rest of the globe. With the invasion of Crimea, the Syrian civil war, and unexpected election results across the West, the task of decrypting his ideology has become more pressing than ever. This is a remarkable tour of Kremlin doctrine and strategy, examined through its intellectual origins, from a Eurasian Union to a new Russian Empire.
Since Vladimir Putin took office in 2000 and began reasserting Russia's position on the world stage, Western pundits have attempted to uncover the Russian president's "brain" or "guru," confident that they might discover some hidden Svengali-like figure who would inspire him. Unfortunately, this endeavor is doomed: Putin has had various "gray cardinals," the most renowned of whom is arguably Vladislav Surkov, who has helped construct Russia's master narrative and the president's image over the years, but there is no single ideological wellspring to be located. The Russian presidential administration, on the other hand, cultivates a plural doctrinal market with a swarm of advisors presenting a variety of mixed ideological products for public consumption.

Putinism: The Ideology

For far too long, Vladimir Putin was derided as a thuggish or irresponsible authoritarian leader. However, Putinism's institutional and ideological foundations are highly sophisticated.
In a country where authority is still vested in individuals rather than institutions, the Russian president's vision of his country, understanding of its history, training as a KGB officer, and personal experience of life in the Soviet Union now have incalculable ramifications for Russian political life.
So far, the Eurasianist and fascist geopolitician Alexander Dugin has been named as Putin's guru. Because of his involvement in popularizing Eurasianist vocabulary and neo-imperial aspirations, Western analysts have overestimated Dugin's significance. There is no direct link, however, between Dugin's neo-Eurasianism and Putin's Eurasian Union agenda. Dugin's ideological repertoire is influenced significantly more by the German Conservative Revolution and the French and Italian New Right than by the interwar Eurasianist founding fathers.
High-ranking Russian officials in charge of Eurasian Economic Union institutions are inspired by Jean Monet and other proponents of a unified Europe, or by Beijing's rhetoric of Chinese-style harmonious growth, rather than by classical Eurasianism. Even as the Eurasian Economic Union takes institutional shape, Dugin has failed to gain any institutional status – he is not even a member of the Civic Chamber and was fired from his position at Moscow State University during the 2014 Ukrainian crisis – and his theories are too esoteric and philosophical to compete with more mainstream ideological products.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently claimed that he believes in the notion passionately developed by the great Russian historian Lev Gumilev. The passionate idea that President Putin favors can be summarized as follows: Making sacrifices for the public, rather than personal aims aids in the formation of nations and the perpetuation of their authority. Putin believes that Russia is in an evolutionary stage, in contrast to many Western countries that are quickly aging and on the point of extinction.