The special case of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a fascinating, though a mystical character. Even though he has been at the fore-front of Russian politics for over a decade since 2000, not many actually understand the impact and influence he has had on Russia.

Discussing Putin’s time as Russian President could take a whole book, but in this article I want to focus on his achievement of rebuilding and shaping the new national identity of Russia.

Russia has a vast and fascinating history. The nation went through a turmoil of many revolutions and different political systems ranging from tsarism, to “communism”, to current Russian democracy. If there is one aspect of Russian history that still dominates that society, it is the collapse of the Soviet Union and the humiliation that followed in the next decade- lack of food, jobs and a purpose in life. Losing the Cold War was for many a life shattering event. Despite what many people believe, millions in Russia supported the Soviet Union and were distraught when it broke up.

From 1991, under President Boris Yeltsin life in Russia was challenging, and watching the West progress economically, scientifically and technologically did not make it easier for the Russians who were also told to believe that the West was inferior to them. The Russian ego was dealt a heavy blow at the end of the Cold War. Rewinding back a few decades, this ego was inflated constantly by Russian leaders preaching to the public that the Soviet Union was superior to the American way of life and the West in general. Winning the Second World War against Nazi Germany was used as a national triumph to spur nationalism and increase pride in the Russian never-die-attitude. The Russians felt invincible, and with many successes over America, like being the first country to send a man into space, it seemed that the Soviet Union would live on for millennia. This idea came crashing down 1991 and Russia as a whole fell into a deep depression- economically, mentally and societally.

This went on until President Vladimir Putin arrived as the new leader in 2001 to breathe new life into Russia. Through confident mannerism and a winning attitude, he transformed Russia from a sorry state, into a nation ready to play a pivotal role in the international arena again. This is the crucial aspect of Putin’s psychology- his main aim as a President was and still is, to restore the pride that Russians lost and to heal the ego that was bruised. Putin has done this through encouraging patriotism and nationalistic tendencies.

It is fair to say that Putin is disliked in the West, mainly because he refuses to play by the rules set by America and Europe. This is all part of his game to illustrate that Russia is a major power and will not allow the West to dominate its domestic and foreign policies. The current head-to-head stand-off over Syria is another demonstration of Putin’s desire to show to the Russian citizens that he, as a leader, can stand up to the powerful West and not allow Russia to be intimidated.

Whatever one thinks about Putin, it is undoubtedly true to say that Putin has achieved his goal- the modern Russians once again love their country and the continuous economic growth and rise in standards of living have put Russia back on the map. The Russian President is by far not perfect, but one has to admire his ability to take Russia out of a coffin and bring the country back to life. It is therefore not surprising that despite what the Western nations may think, Putin, after over 13 years in the limelight, is still considered a popular figurehead in Russia.

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Categories: International politics

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