Status: 22/09/2023, 23:13 p.m.
By: Marcus Giebel
Having reached the end of his path as president, Vladimir Putin is presumably coming under more and more pressure from his confidants. © IMAGO / ITAR-TASS
A former companion of Vladimir Putin talks about joint appointments. The Kremlin chief showed his best side.
Moscow – Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, Vladimir Putin has stood for abysmal evil in large parts of Europe. In not a few eyes for the devil in human form. Or the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. He even seems to be flirting with provoking another world war.
Putin confidant: Always totally rational at meetings
Ultimately, the Kremlin chief, like any ruler, is primarily concerned with his power content and absolute control. This is made clear by political scientist Abbas Gallyamov in an article for the US portal Newsweek. As a speechwriter, he also got to know Putin in a completely different way.
At meetings, the now 70-year-old has always been totally rational and logical in his search for sensible decisions. He had never been disrespectful to anyone else. Gallyamov attests that his former boss always behaved appropriately.
Putin as a warm-hearted ruler: Kremlin chief wants to talk about problems instead of successes
Above all, he remembered one appointment. Putin gave an opening speech to journalists, after which the media representatives had to leave the room. In a small circle, he asked the governors not to give their prepared speeches about successes and achievements, but to report freely on the difficulties they are facing. In this way, solutions should be worked on together.
When one of the men seemed to be completely overwhelmed by this and yet removed all the positives from his script, Putin warmly and kindly pointed out to him what he intended to do at this meeting. When other participants in the meeting began to laugh, the president asked for silence.
In retrospect, Gallyamov speculates that Putin was able to appear so calm at the time because he had nothing and no one to fear. He had built a stable system that followed a clear hierarchy in which he himself occupied the top position. There was no doubt about Putin's status.
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Thus, he noted about the Moscow ruler: "He is absolutely indulgent towards himself. He believes that anything is possible if he deems it necessary – there should be no rules and restrictions. He's pretty archaic in that respect."
However, this only applies to what he considers to be the "good guys": Putin himself and his confidants. Everyone else would have to submit to strict rules. This means that the whole system is built on tensions from the outset.
According to Gallyamov, the world has felt how Putin reacts when he threatens to lose control three times: in 2008, 2014 and since 2022.
Putin and the Caucasus War: Attack for rapprochement with Medvedev?
15 years ago, he had to temporarily resign from the presidency because Russian law, which has since been amended, ruled out a second re-election at the time. Thus, Dmitry Medvedev became the strong man in the Kremlin, and he seemed to be much more open to the West than Prime Minister Putin. "I was working in the government at the time and I still remember the tensions that increased between Medvedev's Kremlin and Putin's cabinet," Gallyamov writes.
This was followed by the Caucasus War, which was allegedly planned long in advance, in which Putin had his troops march into Georgia. Subsequently, the Putin camp and Medvedev's Kremlin converged. Gallyamov believes that the war was provoked to drive a wedge between Medvedev and the democratic world.
Putin and Ukraine: Crimean takeover in response to Yanukovych's flight?
Six years later, Putin was under pressure both domestically and internationally. For example, mass protests in Ukraine led to his confidant Viktor Yanukovych fleeing from Kiev to Russia. "If Putin had not reacted by taking over Crimea, he would have been doomed to failure," Gallyamov speculates: "His image as a strong man – his only real source of legitimacy – could no longer have been maintained after the 'loss of Ukraine to America'."
Finally, in 2022, Putin was heavily counted at home, with his approval ratings plummeting from 2015 to 76 percent since 45. "A political catastrophe was looming. The Russians were fed up with Putin and did not intend to vote for him," Gallyamov emphasizes. It is true that the Kremlin chief has control over the electoral process and can manipulate accordingly. But this should be avoided at all costs.
As a result, Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine. The former Putin confidant explains that the campaign has been anything but successful since then by saying that, in his opinion, the commanders had assumed until the beginning of the invasion that it would only be an exercise and had themselves been completely taken by surprise by the invasion. Accordingly, they simply considered it to be muscle-flexing by their supreme commander – until it finally became bitterly serious.
Friendly look: Vladimir Putin is apparently anything but unapproachable in conversations. © IMAGO / ITAR-TASS
Putin and the Ukraine war: "Escalation was key"
Gallyamov therefore assumes that thousands of civilians have had to die in Ukraine because Putin wants to stay in power at all costs and goes over tons of corpses to do so. His aim was to regain popularity in the country and at the same time to broaden the view of citizens beyond the borders.
After all, people didn't really care what was going on in America or other parts of the world. They had insisted that their own living conditions had to improve. Instead, they were confronted with a new war into which Putin plunged Russia. "Escalation was the key," Gallyamov explains the tactic.
For now, the Kremlin chief seems to have achieved his goal. His popularity ratings are rising, and citizens are once again interested in the supposed enemy in the West.
Gallyamov on Putin: "Regime brought to the brink of collapse"
At the same time, however, he made his biggest mistake in 23 years of presidency, Gallyamov believes: "He brought the regime to the brink of collapse."
This was demonstrated by the revolt of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was not an enemy of the system. Rather, it is an integral part of Putin's power apparatus. The fact that he had the warlord allegedly eliminated in the meantime will only give him a temporary breather. In a few months, it will start all over again, Gallyamov predicts.
His confidants would only stand by Putin as long as it was clear to them that they would lose a showdown against him. But due to the setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine, companions may feel compelled to reach for power themselves. With the prospect of success.
Interesting facts about Vladimir Putin
|Birthday/place of birth||7 October 1952 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg)|
|President of Russia since||1999 (interruption from 2008 to 2012)|
|Prime Minister of Russia of||2008 to 2012|
|KGB employees of||1975 to 1990|
|Operating in Germany from||1985 to 1990|
|Marital status||divorced (two children)|
Putin and the end of power: Is he looking for his own successor?
"As soon as defeat becomes apparent, there would be very few reasons why the population and the elites should remain loyal to the strongman who is no longer strong," Gallyamov notes. Putin's end as head of the Kremlin could come from a popular uprising, a coup or a mutiny. But he could also choose another way out, appoint a successor himself and resign. Just like Boris Yeltsin.
However, in order to be able to spend his retirement peacefully like his predecessor, Putin would have to help someone into office who ends the war, starts negotiations with other states and ensures reforms in Russia. However, he doesn't really seem to trust his ex-boss to do it. (mg)