My thanks to Elizabeth Wood, who follows up on her blog essay for the Boston Globe, which I referenced in an earlier post, with a pointer to some other interesting articles on the web. So, the remainder of this post is from her:
For Russian history buffs, the Internet is full of relevant articles right now. Three that I would particularly recommend are:
a) Andreas Umland, “How to make Russia democratic?”
In this article Umland reminds readers of the perils of Russian intelligentsia commitment to moral purity at the expense of political pragmatism and urges today’s liberals to unite and form a single party.
b) Clifford Gaddy and Fiona Hill, “Putin and the Uses of History”
c) Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, “Vladimir Putin’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”
In these two articles Hill and Gaddy discuss Vladimir Putin’s flawed use of history and failure to understand the ramifications of his historical position.
To these articles I would add a comment that the parallel of Mr. Putin and Tsar Nicholas II is particularly strong. Both felt a special calling to lead the Russian people. Both were obsessed with the need to prove the people’s love for them. And finally both created highly monocratic regimes where all power seemed to rest on their shoulders personally. The problem with this approach, as students of Russian history know from 1905 and 1917, is that when events in the country appear to be cataclysmic, it is the ruler who is then personally blamed. Pro-Putin sentiment can just as easily turn to anti-Putin sentiment.