David Satter is a Russia scholar and former Moscow correspondent, the author of three books on Russia and the Soviet Union, a Senior Fellow with the Hudson Institute, and a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Study. He graduated from the University of Chicago, serving as the editor of the Maroon. Find out more about his work at http://www.davidsatter.com/
The Putin regime does not intend to surrender power. Putin always intended to be president for life although this fact was disguised with the help of an array of pseudo-democratic institutions. The present regime is the culmination of a process that began under Yeltsin. The transformation of the Russian economy without the benefit of law led to the criminalization of society and the economic rape of the population. The anger of Russians over the pillaging of the country was such that Yeltsin was unlikely to have any influence over his successor and faced criminal prosecution after he stepped down as president in 2000 at the end of his Constitutionally mandated two terms as President. To protect the Yeltsin entourage and guarantee the election of a reliable successor, the leadership launched a new war in Chechnya. The person chosen by the Yeltsin "family" to be the beneficiary of this crime was Putin, the head of the FSB. Putin, once in power, took steps to assure that he could never be replaced. A system of top down subordination was established and this was accompanied by the elimination of independent centers of political power, including business, the media, the courts and law enforcement and the parliament. The system that was established was unchallengeable inside Russia by anything but a massive popular revolt and it was for this reason that the events in Ukraine were so threatening. The conditions in Ukraine under President Viktor Yanukovych were nearly identical to those that existed in Russia. Given the common history of Russia and Ukraine the example of the anti-criminal revolution in Ukraine was a direct threat to Putin's rule in Russia. It was for this reason that in the eyes of the Russian authorities that Ukraine's revolution had to be destroyed.
April 6, 2015
International House, Assembly Hall
1414 East 59th St.
International House Global Voices Program
Center for International Studies World Beyond the Headlines Lecture Series
UIUC Russian, East European and Eurasian Center
Seminary Co-Op Bookstore