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“The churches are our barracks, the bells are our helmets, the Kremlin spires are our bayonets, and Putin trolls are our soldiers…”

… Well, it doesn’t have quite the ring of the better known poem that, having once landed Erdogan in jail, has now ensured his survival.

So people are now asking: Without Erdogan’s closer ties to a religion far more passionary than Orthodox Christianity, without his allegedly superior democratic credentials, would anyone actually bother out to defend the Dark Lord of the Kremlin cometh the Great Day of his Reckoning that every second Russia think-tank analyst in London and Washington D.C. has been prophesying for more than a decade?

Of course not. I even feel a bit stupid for putting fingers to keyboard to write this post. But nonsense has to be cleared up.

I

The first problem with thinking about a prospective Russian coup is finding even a semi-plausible candidate to play the plotters’ part.

The actors that immediately come to mind are the generals – but they are also the unlikeliest group to move against Putin. The last time the Russian armed forces had regularly played kingmaker was during the 17th century, when the streltsy acted as a kind of Praetorian guard to the Tsars. The last successful coup that relied on military support took place more than two century ago, when Catherine the Great deposed the wildly unpopular Peter III, an 18th century Wehraboo who had withdrawn Russia from a hard-fought but successful war against Prussia on account of his boyhood fascination with Frederick the Great and the Prussian Army. The Russian military would never again be politically influential. The Kornilov putsch in 1917 failed. In both 1991 and 1993, the Armed Forces remained loyal to their respective heads of state, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, even though neither man enjoyed their respect. Despite the frailty of post-Soviet polities, the entire region would only see three military coups after 1991: One successful coup in Georgia, and two coups in Azerbaijan, of which one was successful. Azerbaijan is, of course, the closest “relative” to Turkey – with its seven coups this past century alone – in the former USSR, so it is unlikely that its experience would be much extensible to Russia.

In contrast to both Gorbachev and Yeltsin, Putin has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings, and the respect of the military and siloviks in particular. He can speak their language and has furnished lavish spending on both the military and the security services. The current Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, is highly popular without harboring much in the way of personal political ambitions of his own. This is in contrast to his predecessor Anatoly Serdyukov, who was highly unpopular for his questionable reforms and blatant corruption. He was eventually dismissed from his post, but the corruption investigation went nowhere and was eventually quietly shut down. Although the legal impunity of the Russian political elites is one of the few real sources of popular discontent with Putinism, it may also play a role as a political safety valve. Bureaucrats who steal too much – Serdyukov, Yakunin, Luzhkov, etc. – might get dismissed, but don’t tend to go overtly hostile because, apart from their low chances of success and high risk of ruin, they also know that the next regime might not be so forgiving towards them.

It is ultimately the oligarchs who are the most credible threat to Putin’s power. After all, it was the oligarchs who were instrumental in keeping an ailing Yeltsin in power in 1996, who ruled it for a time as the Semibankirschina, and who eased the transition towards a Putin Presidency (upon which he promptly told them to get out of politics). They also played a huge role in the political life of the other post-Soviet states. In Georgia, it was essentially an oligarchic coup by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili that doomed Saakashvili’s attempts to set himself up for permanent rule in late 2012. In Ukraine, it was above all the defection of several key oligarchs critical to the coalition supporting Viktor Yanukovych – together with their media assets and bought up Rada MPs – that ensured the success of Euromaidan (though a false flag helped). Moldova is essentially a playground for various oligarchic and nationalist factions. So oligarchs have a record of successfully influencing politics throughout the former USSR, and moreover, as a class they have no particular reasons to love Putin. So how much of a threat are they?

They are a bigger threat than any other force, but still not all that dangerous. First, there has already been stringent selection for loyalty; recalcitrants (Gusinsky, Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc.) have long been purged or exiled abroad. The 1990s class of oligarchs, who have the most reason to hate Putin, now have very little institutional influence. Khodorkovsky tried to infiltrate the system by buying up Duma MPs in the early 2000s, which no doubt contributed to the decision to bring down the hammer of the law against him. Since his release he has said he wants to lead Russia (thus once again breaking his promise not to go into politics), but his main political asset is but a slick PR campaign centered almost exclusively on the West. How that could translate into meaningful political power in Russia is unclear to say the least.

Meanwhile, the large class of billionaires created in the 2000s has no particular reason to dislike Putin, especially since he was the man who enabled many of them to acquire or expand their fortunes; nor do they have much in the way of political influence, since staying out of politics was a condition of them being allowed to do large-scale business in the first place (Mikhail Prokhorov’s 2008 Presidential run was a mutually agreed upon exception). The supportive political role of the AKP-linked construction barons in Erdogan’s Turkey, who have gotten rich on providing homes and malls for Anatolians moving to the western cities, is in Russia played by a small group of Putin’s friends, who get privileged contracts in return for their loyalty and helping out with projects of national importance. Is this corrupt? Sure. But on the flip side, nobody apart from the Roternbergs was rushing to build a bridge to Crimea, because they have too many assets tied up in the West. Incidentally, speaking of the West, far from destabilizing Putin’s domestic position as initially hoped for, the sanctions on Russian figures close to Putin have only strengthened Putin’s position, since they are more reliant on his favor than ever before now that the option of fleeing to Londongrad has been foreclosed.

II

But okay, let’s put all that aside and wave a magic wand.

While Putin is away at a UN summit, his approval at a record low due to a recent crab-related sex scandal, a group of oligarchs manage to buy off the directors of most of the main TV channels, a large chunk of United Russia MPs, and the head of the Moscow police and OMON. Putin’s Cabinet are taken into custody. Khodorkovsky and the rest of his merry revolutionaries jet in, while Putin’s plane is discovered to have mechanical problems (a group of men are seen furtively sneaking out of the hangar), delaying his return to Russia for a number of critical hours.

In this scenario, will the coup go ahead successfully, the now liberal-controlled state TV brainwashing vatnik brains overnight into avid becoming avid supporters of Khodorkovsky and holding a gay parade in his honor, or will they take to the streets to preserve their democratically elected President/evil totalitarian regime (cross out as appropriate)?

Well, the first and most obvious “problem” is that Putin’s approval rating has hovered at a steady 60%-90% through the 16 years of his rule.

putin-approval-rating-1999-2016

Color revolutions, even coups, are pretty much impossible with these kinds of ratings. Yanukovych was in his 20%’s on the eve of Euromaidan (similar to Poroshenko today), and even lower in Kiev. Even the failed recent coup against Erdogan occured when he was in his 40%’s. All three of the post-Soviet coups came at a time of double-digit annual GDP collapse and civil war/failed war against Armenia. Despite political crises in 1961 and 1968, there was never a successful coup against France’s Charles de Gaulle, the postwar West European leader with whom Putin perhaps has the most commonalities; between 1958 and 1969, De Gaulle’s approval ratings averaged 60% (Putin: 75%), and never dipped below 42% (Putin: Low 60%’s).

One popular theory advanced by Daniel Treisman used to explain Putin’s Teflon-like popularity (and popularized in his book The Return) tied Putin’s (and Yeltsin’s) approval ratings to economic performance.

treisman-putin-approval-predicted-from-economics

However, as it later emerged, this tight correlation must have been an artifact. It broke down to the downside during the 2011-12 protests over electoral falsifications, even though the economy then was chugging along more or less normally; and it veered sharply upwards after the incorporation of Crimea in 2014, even as the economy went into a long recession.

So you can’t rely on sanctions and/or The Next Recession to torpedo Putin’s ratings.

Another popular theory is that Russian pollsters are unreliable. It is also incredibly illogical, since the Levada Center is for all intents and purposes an oppositional organization, and because even Western pollsters consistently confirm Putin’s high approval ratings.

The most nuanced critique is the “mile wide but inch deep” theory of post-Soviet politics, which as repeatedly applied to Putin’s Russia means that the population is too afraid to answer pollsters truthfully, and/or supports Putin but without much enthusiasm, such that they will all defect from him once his sorceror’s spell is broken, and the mind-control Towers of Saraksh crumble. (There is also of course an ideological component here as well, namely the unwillingness of Western elites to come to terms with democratic choices that they disapprove of, as has been blatantly demonstrated in the past year by their reactions to Brexit and Trump).

putin-approval-frye-estimates

This theory, however, has been conclusively debunked by Timothy Frye et al. in 2015, who used a double list experiment – a clever way of gauging attitudes towards a potentially controversial topic without respondents having to answer it directly – to confirm that Putin’s approval ratings as measured by mainstream pollsters were accurate to at least within 10 percentage points, and concluded that the “main obstacle at present to the emergence of a widespread opposition movement to Putin is not that Russians are afraid to voice their disapproval of Putin, but that Putin is in fact quite popular.”

III

Leonid Bershidsky identifies three reasons why a coup might have better prospects against Putin than against Erdogan.

First, Bershidsky claims that as an “essentially one-party democracy,” Russian voters will not be under any great incentive to defend their votes: “Putin’s supporters are passive and often dependent on government largesse – which might still be available from whoever tries to depose the president.” This is a dangerous assumption for the coup plotters, and as shown above, almost certainly a false one.

Second, Turkey has allowed foreign media to operate widely: “As a result, it wasn’t state television but the secularist, private Dogan media group, which owns the CNN Turk TV channel, that put Erdogan on the air first so he could tell the nation he was fighting the coup attempt.” Because of course the Western media is well known for its impartiality towards Putin and its absolute respect for democracy. It’s not like they’ve spent the past sixteen years relentlessly smearing Putin and denying the democratic choices of the Russian people.

Third, Bershidsky points out that “vibrant connection to organized religion is another strength of the Erdogan regime.” Although Putin has a good relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, it is true that that nobody is going to come out even if they were to ring their bells. However, Russia does have a means of instantly politically mobilizing its population: “Patriotic” websites and social media.

Within an hour, if not minutes, of a hostile coup, patriotic bloggers such as Nikolay Starikov are going to call their readers out into the streets. So will Sergey Kurginyan’s patriotic-Communist “Essence of Time” movement. They will have a huge immediate audience because Internet penetration in Moscow is at 80%, and close to 70% in the rest of Russia.

This is barely mentioned or remembered nowadays, but it is worth mentioning that during the 2011-12 wave of protests, when Putin’s approval ratings were at their nadir, the Kurginyanites still managed to pull off the single biggest (counter)protest of that entire electoral cycle, and they did it in the country’s most oppositional city at the time.

Even if, at the time of the coup, Putin’s approval rating were to drop to a historic low of 50%, that would still leave 16% of Russians whose “Putinism Quotient” is +1 S.D. above the average – perhaps, many of the 16% of Russians who today either have or want to acquire a portrait or sculpture of Putin – who are strong Putin supporters and who would spill over into the streets, like the 800,000 Parisians who marched against a Communist revolution and in support of Charles de Gaulle on May 30, 1968.

The 2% of Russians whose PQ is +2 S.D. above the mean – i.e., easily 100,000 Muscovites alone – would be the ones lynching coup sympathizers on the streets and engaging in battles with the Traitor Legions.

And there does exist a group of people, the +3 S.D. types, too embarassingly fanatical to be overtly associated even for your average Putin supporter, small in percentage terms but nonetheless substantial in absolute numbers, who can more or less fairly be described as Putin cultists:

The path laid by the father is not one of argument with him, but rather argument with the open world laying before us, an argument in which we are together with the father, at one with him,” it says. “We don’t fight with the power of the father, we share it, we learn the power, we master the power, together with the father we direct its energy toward our present and future.

Presumably, they will most certainly not take the coup lying down (unless it’s in front of a tank).

This is ultimately all just bell curve dynamics.

It is almost impossible that the Army or any significant portion of the security agencies would support the coupists. The Russian Armed Forces are a mix of conscripts and professionals. Conscripts tend to come from poorer, working-class families – i.e., more patriotic than hipsters who avoid service – and the professional soldiers are self-selected for greater patriotism, as with militaries almost anywhere. As for the generals, as mentioned above, it is hard to see them ditching the reliable Putin they know for an unelected emigre and convicted financial fraudster from Switzerland.

With neither the people nor the Army behind them, the coup will fail. And that is also why it will almost certainly never start.

There are several conceivable ways in which the Putin regime could end prematurely – an accident or assassination, a huge geopolitical defeat, or perhaps a liberalization of the political system that veers out of control – but a coup is not one of them under both the current and most conceivable future circumstances.

 
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  1. Well, a gay germ epidemic might do it. LOL, but the CIA is probably studying this.

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  2. 5371 says:

    The war against Frederick was probably not a good idea for Russia, as suggested by Catherine’s failure to return to that side once she had seized the reins, opting instead for neutrality.
    +1 for Wehraboo, though.

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    • Replies: @Marcus
    Why? It was Prussia/Germany that eventually dealt the death blow to the Romanovs.
    , @colm
    Fritz was like Hitler in the Bunker, waiting for the final blow, when Peter gave him the respite.

    With Fritz dead and Prussia no more, Russia drinks the water of North Sea.
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  3. Richard S says:

    I like this analysis. In spite of the bullshitters in the western media shocked that Putin won’t let child molesters openly propagandise, I think the only conceivable threat to Putin will come from the Right.

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    • Replies: @AndrewR
    Edgy
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  4. AndrewR says:
    @Richard S
    I like this analysis. In spite of the bullshitters in the western media shocked that Putin won't let child molesters openly propagandise, I think the only conceivable threat to Putin will come from the Right.

    Edgy

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  5. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Don’t think so. Putin is too short. Russians will not defend a manlet.

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    • Replies: @Mitleser
    French defended Napoleon.
    , @Zzz
    This is very american thing to say.
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  6. Mark1956 says: • Website

    A rock-solid piece typical of its author. I have but one minor quibble – the characterization of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s victory as an ‘oligarchic coup’. It was to the extent that Ivanishvili liberally spread money around to buy votes – although to no more an extent than Saakashvili did with the taxpayers’ own money – but Ivanishvili had no trouble mobilizing such populist support as is to be had in Georgia on a vision of far greater transparency than could ever have been achieved under the giant rodent that Saakashvili was. Georgian Dream came by its victory honestly, especially by the standards Saakashvili established.

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  7. grmbl says:

    Hey good stuff Anatol, you listened to your readers and this is what we asked for. Thanks!

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  8. Good thought experiment as usual. My experiences outside Moscow suggest that the party system was working well with the LDPR and FR acting as safety valves either side of UR. However, UR is definitely crumbling and the Communists seem to have younger supporters these days. Anti corruption drives have reduced the perks for local government, education and health workers but not noticeably for the oligarchs. The lack of real trade unions and diversity of media (meaning pro Communist) means these people are voiceless. The Communist Party could still do a UKIP on some economic issue, especially if Zhirinovsky goes and the LDPR falls to pieces.

    What protects Putin against this is the collapse in the Russian workforce as Russian boomers retire and the 90′s bust (not entirely a Yeltsin transition problem-another discussion) arrives. At a time of a 5 year contraction in the Russian economy amounting to as much as 25% depending on how you deal with inflation and sovereign wealth fund expenditure, unemployment is falling! Amongst my acquaintances, only the seriously unemployable (nothing is good enough for them and Papa will pay) are now without work. Everyone is in work even if they are poorer. This means a huge transfer from either the State or Business Earnings. Right now, the state has not raised taxes, so profits are being hammered. Another factor in the free fall in investment.

    So, the price of Putin’s adventurism has fallen not only on the oligarchs but also SME’s. There is thus a source of energy to drive your scenario but I still vote for the Communists as the only realistic threat.

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    • Replies: @Blitzstat

    Communists seem to have younger supporters these days
     
    Any statistic to back this up?
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  9. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website

    not entirely a Yeltsin transition problem-another discussion

    Actually, it is. A major prong in Russia’s lumpenization of 1990s and 2000s was a destruction of three-tier educational system in which vocational schools (PTUs) especially “at the plant” played a crucial role. Restoration (or at least attempts) of the so called “college” system as of lately seems like some attempt at restoring professional-technical education. Obviously, this destruction came as a direct result of barbaric deindustrialization of Russia and deliberate obliteration of whole industries. Right now what Russia desperately needs are educated cadres for predominantly machine building complex–these are hot professions, they are for some time now, at least 7-8 years. This situation is a “transition” (I don’t know is raping and pillaging also a “transition” issue?) . Russia does not need merchandisers and waitresses, she need CNC operators and highly qualified welders.

    So, the price of Putin’s adventurism

    The only “adventurism” of Putin is the one which is keeping a cabal of monetarist morons in Medvedev’s government around. This partially derives from the fact of Putin being Anatoly Sobchak’s “student” and being monetarist himself.

    and diversity of media (meaning pro Communist)

    This is debatable and only if by media you mean TV mostly.

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  10. Mitleser says:
    @Anonymous
    Don't think so. Putin is too short. Russians will not defend a manlet.

    French defended Napoleon.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Napoleon wasn't short:

    http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/03/napolean-bonaparte-having-been-short-is-a-myth/
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  11. El Dato says:

    The path laid by the father is not one of argument with him, but rather argument with the open world laying before us, an argument in which we are together with the father, at one with him,” it says. “We don’t fight with the power of the father, we share it, we learn the power, we master the power, together with the father we direct its energy toward our present and future.

    This sounds like something out of a traditional Dojo.

    Vladimir Putin as patriotic Chi-powered o-Sensei?

    Totally gar!

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  12. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    That figure shows how Putin approval ratings surged from 60 to 90 percent right when the West unleashed its propagandistic might against him.

    A little ironical.

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  13. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    The chart shows Putin’s approval swiftly surged from 60 to 90 percent right when the West unleashed its propaganda machine against him.

    Isn’t it a little ironical.

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    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Isn’t it a little ironical.
     
    For those who do not study Russian history by Solzhenitsyn--it is not.
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  14. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Anonymous
    The chart shows Putin's approval swiftly surged from 60 to 90 percent right when the West unleashed its propaganda machine against him.

    Isn't it a little ironical.

    Isn’t it a little ironical.

    For those who do not study Russian history by Solzhenitsyn–it is not.

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  15. Blitzstat says:
    @Philip Owen
    Good thought experiment as usual. My experiences outside Moscow suggest that the party system was working well with the LDPR and FR acting as safety valves either side of UR. However, UR is definitely crumbling and the Communists seem to have younger supporters these days. Anti corruption drives have reduced the perks for local government, education and health workers but not noticeably for the oligarchs. The lack of real trade unions and diversity of media (meaning pro Communist) means these people are voiceless. The Communist Party could still do a UKIP on some economic issue, especially if Zhirinovsky goes and the LDPR falls to pieces.

    What protects Putin against this is the collapse in the Russian workforce as Russian boomers retire and the 90's bust (not entirely a Yeltsin transition problem-another discussion) arrives. At a time of a 5 year contraction in the Russian economy amounting to as much as 25% depending on how you deal with inflation and sovereign wealth fund expenditure, unemployment is falling! Amongst my acquaintances, only the seriously unemployable (nothing is good enough for them and Papa will pay) are now without work. Everyone is in work even if they are poorer. This means a huge transfer from either the State or Business Earnings. Right now, the state has not raised taxes, so profits are being hammered. Another factor in the free fall in investment.

    So, the price of Putin's adventurism has fallen not only on the oligarchs but also SME's. There is thus a source of energy to drive your scenario but I still vote for the Communists as the only realistic threat.

    Communists seem to have younger supporters these days

    Any statistic to back this up?

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  16. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Mitleser
    French defended Napoleon.
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    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Fucking French units.
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  17. Mitleser says:
    @Anonymous
    Napoleon wasn't short:

    http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/03/napolean-bonaparte-having-been-short-is-a-myth/

    Fucking French units.

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  18. inertial says:

    Post 1917, all coups in Russia (let’s call them “sudden transfers of power”) came as the result of maneuvering by groups of highly placed apparatchiks. Therefore, the biggest danger to Putin comes not from the streets or barracks but from Kremlin offices.

    Look at Putin’s own elevation to acting President after Yeltsin’s unexpected retirement announcement. I thought at the time, and still think, that it was a soft coup. (Back then my view wasn’t shared by many because the smart opinion was that Putin was obviously a puppet of Yeltsin’s family. I feel I’ve been vindicated by the events.)

    If Putin is ever ousted that’s how it’s going to look like. There won’t be tanks in the streets or crowds storming Kremlin towers. There will only be a terse announcement on TV: “On account of poor health and blah blah, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has decided to…”

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    • Replies: @5371
    I don't think anyone expected Yeltsin to run for a third term, but there were certainly mysterious events that summer, such as Stepashin's sudden appearance and equally sudden disappearance as successor.
    , @Mitleser

    I feel I’ve been vindicated by the events.
     
    How? Yeltsin and his family got away with that they did.
    , @colm
    If Putin is replaced that way he will be replaced by someone 'better' (read: harder for the West to deal with).

    Like Kim Ilsung replaced by his even crazier son.
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  19. Glossy says: • Website

    The last successful coup that relied on military support took place more than two century ago, when Catherine the Great deposed the wildly unpopular Peter III

    Peter III’s son Paul I was deposed by officers.

    On the night of 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1801, Paul was murdered in his bedroom in the newly built St Michael’s Castle by a band of dismissed officers headed by General Bennigsen, a Hanoverian in the Russian service, and General Yashvil, a Georgian.

    If something happens to Putin now, naturally or unnaturally, the constitution makes Medvedev president until new elections are held. Controlling the state apparatus he would probably win those elections. Medvedev could easily become the new Gorbachev, a defeatist “liberalizer”. I think this is a bigger danger than a coup.

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  20. 5371 says:
    @inertial
    Post 1917, all coups in Russia (let's call them "sudden transfers of power") came as the result of maneuvering by groups of highly placed apparatchiks. Therefore, the biggest danger to Putin comes not from the streets or barracks but from Kremlin offices.

    Look at Putin's own elevation to acting President after Yeltsin's unexpected retirement announcement. I thought at the time, and still think, that it was a soft coup. (Back then my view wasn't shared by many because the smart opinion was that Putin was obviously a puppet of Yeltsin's family. I feel I've been vindicated by the events.)

    If Putin is ever ousted that's how it's going to look like. There won't be tanks in the streets or crowds storming Kremlin towers. There will only be a terse announcement on TV: "On account of poor health and blah blah, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has decided to..."

    I don’t think anyone expected Yeltsin to run for a third term, but there were certainly mysterious events that summer, such as Stepashin’s sudden appearance and equally sudden disappearance as successor.

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  21. Mitleser says:
    @inertial
    Post 1917, all coups in Russia (let's call them "sudden transfers of power") came as the result of maneuvering by groups of highly placed apparatchiks. Therefore, the biggest danger to Putin comes not from the streets or barracks but from Kremlin offices.

    Look at Putin's own elevation to acting President after Yeltsin's unexpected retirement announcement. I thought at the time, and still think, that it was a soft coup. (Back then my view wasn't shared by many because the smart opinion was that Putin was obviously a puppet of Yeltsin's family. I feel I've been vindicated by the events.)

    If Putin is ever ousted that's how it's going to look like. There won't be tanks in the streets or crowds storming Kremlin towers. There will only be a terse announcement on TV: "On account of poor health and blah blah, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has decided to..."

    I feel I’ve been vindicated by the events.

    How? Yeltsin and his family got away with that they did.

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    • Replies: @inertial
    Yes, it was a soft coup, so guarantees must have been given. But Yeltsin's Family was a term of art that included more than just his relatives. In retrospect, it's pretty clear that Putin wasn't controlled by e.g. Berezovsky. Or by...what's his name... Yeltsin's bodyguard and tennis partner.
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  22. inertial says:
    @Mitleser

    I feel I’ve been vindicated by the events.
     
    How? Yeltsin and his family got away with that they did.

    Yes, it was a soft coup, so guarantees must have been given. But Yeltsin’s Family was a term of art that included more than just his relatives. In retrospect, it’s pretty clear that Putin wasn’t controlled by e.g. Berezovsky. Or by…what’s his name… Yeltsin’s bodyguard and tennis partner.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    The standard interpretation that Putin's "soft coup" or coup from above came after he became President.

    Berezovsky helped Putin become President, along with most of the other oligarchs. He only changed his mind once Putin made it clear he needed to BTFO from politics.

    http://inosmi.ru/images/16260/54/162605401.jpg

    ("I fathered you, and I will now kill you" - referending a piece of literature)
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  23. Marcus says:
    @5371
    The war against Frederick was probably not a good idea for Russia, as suggested by Catherine's failure to return to that side once she had seized the reins, opting instead for neutrality.
    +1 for Wehraboo, though.

    Why? It was Prussia/Germany that eventually dealt the death blow to the Romanovs.

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    • Replies: @5371
    Not at all. The German/Russian front had reached a standstill when the Romanovs were overthrown by (in no particular order) the Petrograd mob, bourgeois politicians, the army high command and the Entente powers.
    For a century and a half Prussia was the best ally Russia ever had.
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  24. 5371 says:
    @Marcus
    Why? It was Prussia/Germany that eventually dealt the death blow to the Romanovs.

    Not at all. The German/Russian front had reached a standstill when the Romanovs were overthrown by (in no particular order) the Petrograd mob, bourgeois politicians, the army high command and the Entente powers.
    For a century and a half Prussia was the best ally Russia ever had.

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    • Replies: @Marcus
    The successes against Austria-Hungary were achieved at great cost, Russia was clearly teetering by 1917.
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  25. Marcus says:
    @5371
    Not at all. The German/Russian front had reached a standstill when the Romanovs were overthrown by (in no particular order) the Petrograd mob, bourgeois politicians, the army high command and the Entente powers.
    For a century and a half Prussia was the best ally Russia ever had.

    The successes against Austria-Hungary were achieved at great cost, Russia was clearly teetering by 1917.

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    • Replies: @5371
    Illusion of inevitability.
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  26. 5371 says:
    @Marcus
    The successes against Austria-Hungary were achieved at great cost, Russia was clearly teetering by 1917.

    Illusion of inevitability.

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  27. @inertial
    Yes, it was a soft coup, so guarantees must have been given. But Yeltsin's Family was a term of art that included more than just his relatives. In retrospect, it's pretty clear that Putin wasn't controlled by e.g. Berezovsky. Or by...what's his name... Yeltsin's bodyguard and tennis partner.

    The standard interpretation that Putin’s “soft coup” or coup from above came after he became President.

    Berezovsky helped Putin become President, along with most of the other oligarchs. He only changed his mind once Putin made it clear he needed to BTFO from politics.

    (“I fathered you, and I will now kill you” – referending a piece of literature)

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  28. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    http://exiledonline.com/yeltsin-a-revolting-lie/

    Well, Russians came out for Yeltsin.

    Unfortunately.

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  29. Zzz says:
    @Anonymous
    Don't think so. Putin is too short. Russians will not defend a manlet.

    This is very american thing to say.

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  30. colm says:

    Peter III sparing Prussia was a huge watershed of modern history , something very few people appreciate. If he had not done so, Russia would have dominated all of Central Europe even now.

    Suvorov used to run around Switzerland and Italy, not something even Stalin’s troops could manage.

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  31. colm says:
    @5371
    The war against Frederick was probably not a good idea for Russia, as suggested by Catherine's failure to return to that side once she had seized the reins, opting instead for neutrality.
    +1 for Wehraboo, though.

    Fritz was like Hitler in the Bunker, waiting for the final blow, when Peter gave him the respite.

    With Fritz dead and Prussia no more, Russia drinks the water of North Sea.

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    • Replies: @5371
    Russia wasn't remotely in the market for conquests within Germany at that time. If she had tried to make them, everyone else would have ganged up against her.
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  32. colm says:
    @inertial
    Post 1917, all coups in Russia (let's call them "sudden transfers of power") came as the result of maneuvering by groups of highly placed apparatchiks. Therefore, the biggest danger to Putin comes not from the streets or barracks but from Kremlin offices.

    Look at Putin's own elevation to acting President after Yeltsin's unexpected retirement announcement. I thought at the time, and still think, that it was a soft coup. (Back then my view wasn't shared by many because the smart opinion was that Putin was obviously a puppet of Yeltsin's family. I feel I've been vindicated by the events.)

    If Putin is ever ousted that's how it's going to look like. There won't be tanks in the streets or crowds storming Kremlin towers. There will only be a terse announcement on TV: "On account of poor health and blah blah, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has decided to..."

    If Putin is replaced that way he will be replaced by someone ‘better’ (read: harder for the West to deal with).

    Like Kim Ilsung replaced by his even crazier son.

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    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    If Putin is replaced that way he will be replaced by someone ‘better’ (read: harder for the West to deal with).

    Like Kim Ilsung replaced by his even crazier son.
     
    Actually, this applies fully to the US. Not that US government, and especially its foreign policy establishment are crazy or something like this, we know only competent and sane people work there, but still. And what is current West? A collection of political prostitutes who would sell everything "West's" to anyone, including terrorists? Is this this West are you talking about? Currently I don't see any other "West".
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  33. 5371 says:
    @colm
    Fritz was like Hitler in the Bunker, waiting for the final blow, when Peter gave him the respite.

    With Fritz dead and Prussia no more, Russia drinks the water of North Sea.

    Russia wasn’t remotely in the market for conquests within Germany at that time. If she had tried to make them, everyone else would have ganged up against her.

    Read More
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  34. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @colm
    If Putin is replaced that way he will be replaced by someone 'better' (read: harder for the West to deal with).

    Like Kim Ilsung replaced by his even crazier son.

    If Putin is replaced that way he will be replaced by someone ‘better’ (read: harder for the West to deal with).

    Like Kim Ilsung replaced by his even crazier son.

    Actually, this applies fully to the US. Not that US government, and especially its foreign policy establishment are crazy or something like this, we know only competent and sane people work there, but still. And what is current West? A collection of political prostitutes who would sell everything “West’s” to anyone, including terrorists? Is this this West are you talking about? Currently I don’t see any other “West”.

    Read More
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  35. […] in the Olympic anti-doping scandal all made headlines last week. 7. The Unz Review: Anatoly Karlin, Will Russians Come Out to Defend Putin? 8. Intellinews.com: Chris Weafer, August in Russia – what could possibly go wrong? 9. […]

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  36. Taking so many words to describe what is self evident… that Putin is popular.

    But looking further into the future, could Sergei Shoigu really become the next president? Can this happen as early as 2018…?

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  37. I think a coup or uprising is more likely in Britain (in paticular against a Prime Minister Corbyn; but conceivably against any leader who overtly defies the Brexit vote) than in Russia currently. Those would be primarily patriotic-nationalist uprisings though, more akin to Erdogan’s counter-coup than to the Sorosite Colour Revolutions.

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  38. Boris N says:

    Mr Karlin, I’ve always appreciated your attempts to fight back Western lies about Russia, but still I cannot agree with you on many important points.

    Presidency (upon which he promptly told them to get out of politics).

    nor do they have much in the way of political influence, since staying out of politics was a condition of them being allowed to do large-scale business in the first place

    No, it is other way around. No-one told them anything, no-one put them any conditions, it is a contemporary Kremlin made-up myth for the public, a red herring, a wishful thinking at best. Putin did not do anything, he couldn’t then and he still cannot now, but it is a group of oligarchs, the Yeltsin’s “Family” amongst them, which promoted Putin up into formal power to save the status quo after Yeltsin. Putin literally owes them everything and has been under their control since the start.

    recalcitrants (Gusinsky, Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc.)

    You know perfectly well that there is no “etc.” Exactly only those three persons (plus, maybe, two or three lesser fish like Khodorkovsky’s partner Lebedev, or Chichvarkin) were persecuted by Putin (read: other, more powerful groups of oligarchs). No-one from the Forbes’ Russian Top 100 was ever harmed (I couldn’t find the list earlier than 2005, but it is enough to see that from 2005 to 2015 no-one ever have been harmed, except for the above mentioned five or so)

    The 1990s class of oligarchs, who have the most reason to hate Putin, now have very little institutional influence.

    There is no single reason for the 1990s oligarch to hate Putin. They are all there, they all have their assets, they’ve multiplied enormously their wealth during the past 16 years. No Russian oligarch would even think to dump Putin away as (a) it is exactly them who put him on the top first, (b) he is a perfect candidate, a perfect “housekeeper”, he has been doing what he was told perfectly for the past 16 years, so why change?

    Another popular theory is that Russian pollsters are unreliable. It is also incredibly illogical, since the Levada Center is for all intents and purposes an oppositional organization, and because even Western pollsters consistently confirm Putin’s high approval ratings.

    I won’t say anything against Levada, but I’ll say that the notion that you can pick up 1600 people and interpolate the opinion of a few to the entire nation is ridiculous. I believe that statistics is a real science, but what all those opinion polls centers and organizations are at best pseudo-science on a par with things like astrology and fortune telling.

    and because even Western pollsters consistently confirm Putin’s high approval ratings.

    But what says the the West is against Putin? What the reason to believe their lies? If the Western pollsters confirm, then there is a reason for the Western establishment to the myth “Russians support Putin”.

    Well, the first and most obvious “problem” is that Putin’s approval rating has hovered at a steady 60%-90% through the 16 years of his rule.

    That said, even if we believe those polls, they say nothing, but the effectiveness of the propaganda machine. That is the efficiency factor is above 60%, a very good performance. ORT, RTR, RT, etc. deserve their money, when even Westerners believe in a magical Putin.

    Within an hour, if not minutes, of a hostile coup, patriotic bloggers such as Nikolay Starikov are going to call their readers out into the streets.

    Mr Karlin, you are really funny, you seem to have lived too much in the West so you created your own idealized image of Russians. Russians are all about speaking, but doing nothing. Hardly a couple of thousand political freaks ever go to the streets for Putin. Real Putinists, those who will dare to raise their asses and simply go out to the streets, not to say to lie under tanks, are as rare as the hipster opposition.

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