Russia Can Finally See that Putin’s ‘Days Are Numbered’

More than two decades after he came to power, President Putin’s grip on the Russian people is finally beginning to falter.

The war in Ukraine has widened the credibility gap, and for the first time many Russians no longer feel they can trust what their leader tells them. Combined with harsh economic sanctions, reallocation of funds to the war, and nationwide conscription, the costs of this pointless conquest are becoming increasingly difficult.

Even loyal Russians now have many questions for Putin. And the Kremlin is running out of ways to deal with the pressure. In the past, a text appearance or a half-naked stage shoot was enough to bring back the domestic media. At times, independent reporters were even given the chance to ask Putin a sensitive question or two—which he quickly and forcefully dismissed.

But all recent efforts to make Putin look like a strong and assertive leader have failed so badly — even inside Russia — that after nine months of devastating war in Ukraine, the Kremlin is running out of ideas. They even canceled Putin’s big annual press conference for the first time in years.

Putin could have ruled longer if he hadn’t started this war, but now his days are truly over

Yulia Galiamina

Russia, just like any other country, wants to live a stable life without being embarrassed by Moscow’s leadership. Vera Alexandrovna, 57, a lawyer from St. Petersburg, told The Daily Beast: “Before the war, Putin guaranteed us a stable life, but now he tells us that life in Russia will be good in only ten years.” I liked Putin before the war, my son was IT, we liked the IT opportunities in Russia. But now all the brains and talents are fleeing the country, my son is gone too and I can’t wait another ten years for a good life.

Putin’s rock solid system is collapsing.

Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin, told The Daily Beast that we are entering the endgame for Putin. “Russia has clearly lost the war, which will lead to the collapse of the regime, but the question is how many more people will die before that happens,” he told The Daily Beast.

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“Putin never played chess, the game of rules, he played a game of poker,” Kasparov said. Putin is the absolute devil, he has gone mad after 22 years in power. But he must understand in his bones that when the war ends and tens of thousands of angry soldiers return home feeling robbed, he cannot continue to rule Russia.”

Tatyana Yashina, 62, the mother of jailed opposition leader Ilya Yashin, said last week had been a turning point in Putin’s regime.

“Putin is collapsing,” he told The Daily Beast. “He’s clearly lying in front of the cameras, not having any confidence in his voice.”

Yashina had particular reason to pay attention to Putin’s state of mind, as his son was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison last Friday, but how the president dealt with the consequences of his unpopular imprisonment – for telling the truth about the war in Ukraine – has resonated with a wider audience. has done.

In a video posted online, veteran Kremlin pool reporter Andrei Kolesnikov confronted Putin over Yashin’s “beastly” remark. A shaky Putin lied that he didn’t know my son, then lied that he didn’t know anything about the statement, Yashina said.

Putin’s deviations no longer convince his domestic audience.

Hundreds of independent Russian and foreign journalists have left Russia over the past nine months, but some journalists, including those from the BBC, continue to report on the commander-in-chief, who has lost thousands of soldiers. Key areas in Ukraine Last week, the BBC Russian Service and local publication Mediazona confirmed the names of 10,002 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. The BBC says that the actual Russian death toll “may exceed 20,000, and the total number of irreparable casualties may reach 90,000”.

Independent polls controlled by the Kremlin show that Putin has lost support for the war, with less than 30 percent of the country’s population wanting it to continue. Yulia Galiamina, a Moscow-based opposition politician, told The Daily Beast: “Putin could have ruled longer if he hadn’t started this war, but now his days are really over, he’s collapsing and he’s clearly aware of it. ». Galiamina has been a victim of police brutality and has been detained several times, but refuses to leave Russia, instead she encourages more people to stand up against Putin.

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Galiamina leads a movement of 150 Russian women called Soft Power. Most of our women are mothers who see the problems from the perspective of our children’s future without Putin, in a Russia that will finally be free. Galiamina and soft power activists are collecting signatures from people speaking out against Putin’s mobilization of Russians. He added: “We have collected more than 500,000 signatures that we are going to send to the Kremlin. We understand our collective responsibility.”

It’s a stalemate, his plan has failed in Ukraine

Olga Bychkova

According to recent polls, Putin is still supported by about 79 percent of Russians, but that faith is waning. Studies by Levada, an independent Russian think tank, show that the number of Russians who believe their country is moving in the right direction fell from 64 percent in October to 61 percent in November.

Each attempt by the Kremlin to rehabilitate Putin as Superman seems to spark another online joke.

Earlier this month, Putin recorded one of his Action Man clips, which showed him driving over a bomb-damaged bridge into Crimea. It was meant to show how fit and healthy he is at age 70, but online commenters were more interested in the car he was driving. It wasn’t one of the Russian-made Ladas he had advertised earlier – which drivers curse for “breaking down more than the cheapest foreign brands” – but a German-engineered Mercedes.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was forced to comment below, explaining that the Mercedes was available by chance and was not an indication of Putin’s automotive preferences.

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To make matters worse, his trip to the internationally recognized Ukrainian territory, now annexed by Russia, came in the same week as three explosions at strategic airfields inside the homeland, one 150 miles away. Moscow. The drone attacks made the Russian Air Defense and the Commander-in-Chief look pathetic even in the domestic media.

Last week, the Kremlin released a picture of Putin holding a glass of champagne, which immediately caused Many anecdotes about “drunk Putin”

The prevailing mood is becoming very difficult for the Kremlin.

Well-known Kremlin watcher Olga Bychkova told The Daily Beast: “The Kremlin’s cancellation of Putin’s big press conference is a sign: they realize how desperate their situation is – it’s a stalemate, his plan has failed in Ukraine.” They still stand by him because they are done without Putin. But now they are not even able to write a script, they think questions and answers for him.”

The latest debate among Putin’s critics is whether the Ukrainian tragedy is the fault of one man or the entire Russian society. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch now in exile in London, suggested to RFE/RL last week that — while Putin took the entire country with him during the 2014 annexation of Crimea — he is now alone. The 2020 war is just Putin’s invention. Russian society was shocked on February 23.

Now the question is, how much worse will the situation be?

Kasparov, a Khodorkovsky ally, thinks there is now an opportunity for the United States to drive a wedge between the president and his top aides, such as Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Kremlin’s Security Council. He says the United States needs to figure out what will happen if Putin is allowed to push the nuclear button. Kasparov said he hoped CIA chief William Burns “whispered something in Patrushev’s ear” at a meeting of security chiefs in Moscow last month.

After years of national ridicule, Putin is becoming increasingly isolated.


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