This guy Andrew Miller used to be The Economist’s Moscow correspondent. This is his prediction from 2000. I also imagine he’d get on splendidly with K.F./Keif. No further comment is necessary. (h/t Patrick Armstrong)
From: “andrew miller”
Subject: The Gathering Storm
Date: Sun, 28 May 2000
Topic: The Gathering Storm
Title: The Oblast of Russia?
… New predictions: Vladimir Putin will not leave power in 2004 or 2008 no matter the results of any election. He will die in office like Brezhnev unless he is ousted like Krushchev in favor of someone like Brezhnev. Within five years, there will be no independent media in Russia (as if there is any now, but according to a recent New York Times editorial in the JRL, there is, so I guess there must be; just wish The Times had told me which kiosk to look in…) Within five years, Russia will absorb Belarus and Georgia (a revised constitution will eliminate the two-term limit for presidents; even if this is not done, Russians will reelect, as that term will come to be defined, Putin as many times as he likes notwithstanding the constitution). Russia will not allow Ukraine to join NATO or the EU and may, within 10 years, forcibly reincorporate Ukraine into the Russia fold if it can substantially improve its military during that time, which it will be able to do only should Western or Asian nations resume lending it piles of cash. In any case, it will do anything it can to prevent such a thing.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a ptitsa! It’s a MiG! No, it’s supergubernator! Within five years, the new supergovernors will have consolidated their power and obliterated the existing concept of federalsim. Within ten years, the supergovernors will have themselves been consolidated into a single new oblast, called Russia. Putin, of course, had been planning to implement his super-governor regime for quite some time (or at least one hopes it was not spontaneous). Yet, he did not mention it during his campaign for president. Conveniently, nobody asked him about it then, and nobody is saying anything now.
According to what passes for logic in the Kremlin now, telling the people what you plan for the future, debates, political advertising, these are all dirty aspects of what might be called capitalist propaganda in politics, aspects which from which Putin has bravely managed to free a grateful nation.
Within twenty years, Russia will make Yugoslavia today look like paradise lost…
St. Petersburg, Russia
Well, I guess he’s still marginally better than our other star from The Economist, our good friend Edward Lucas, who in 1998 predicted that “Russian rouble would collapse to 10,000/$, the economy would contract by at least 25%,the Communist hordes would sweep through Moscow taking the Kremlin, as the RussianFederation – held together with string and sticky-tape – broke up into four nuclear-armed, mutually antagonistic sovereign mini-states.” When that didn’t pan out he started writing fantasy short stories about the Dark Lord Putin and Mordor-Russia.
Now I may not have been the best Russia forecaster in the past 5 years, notching up failures (Putin 2012) as well as successes (everything on demography). Nonetheless I have yet to be as wildly, maniacally wrong as The Economist’s two star Russia journalists and would like to think that if I ever am I will at least have the integrity to give up on this whole Russia watching thing.
Then again unlike most Western journalists I don’t live by the motto, “Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it is true.”