April 15, 2024

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How Putin Turned Russia into a Barbie Country

How Putin Turned Russia into a Barbie Country

Build: Keystone / Watson


The Russian president controls everything – except the birth rate.

15.03.2024, 12:0715.03.2024, 13:15

Philipp Löpfe
Philipp Löpfe

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It is well known that the weekend elections in Russia are nothing but a farce. Even his modest rival, Boris Nadeshtin, was excluded; Many supported his candidature with their signatures.

At the same time, Putin and his aides have ensured that no bad ideas from abroad are allowed to disturb the sleep of Russian citizens. Just as Hitler once banned listening to enemy radio stations and imposed massive fines, Vladimir Putin, with the help of Chinese experts, has ensured that the Russian Internet is effectively sealed off from foreign concessions.

FILE - Riot police detain demonstrators during a demonstration in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of those earmarked for conflict in the U.K. ...

Police arrested demonstrators in Moscow.Build: Keystone

Today it has become practically impossible for private individuals to gain access to so-called VPN servers – which make it possible to bypass Internet censorship. “The Soviet Union is back,” Mazay Banzaev, who runs VPN Amnesia, told the New York Times. “Complete censorship with it.”

Not only has Putin controlled the media behavior of his citizens, he has also reorganized the economy. Oil and gas are no longer supplied to the West, but to the emerging countries of the Global South. Russians no longer buy German and Japanese cars, but Chinese cars.

The sanctions have not had any serious consequences for the Russians so far. Instead, poor people in particular benefit from the war economy. “Unable to satisfy the public's hunger for peace and normalcy, the regime is seeking massive increases in social spending and support for the poor,” notes Andrei Kolesnikov, Russia's leading expert on “foreign affairs.” “This is how Russia has become Putin's Barbie country.”

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Thanks to Putin, the middle class can't blame either. Kolesnikov repeated: “Members of the Russian middle class have now become connoisseurs of French, Italian and Spanish wines and users of the latest technologies. (…) For many this is more important than concerns about democracy.”

AP10ThingsToSee - Russian President Vladimir Putin "Gorny" He wears special glasses while visiting a research facility in  University in St. Petersburg on Monday, January 26, 2015.  Televised...

The ruler is Vladimir Putin.Photo: AP/RIA Novosti Kremlin

Putin portrayed himself as the man who made all of this possible. Michael Kimmage and Maria Lipman note in “Foreign Affairs”: “Many Russians now accept the following statements as theoretical truth: Only Putin can win the necessary wars, only Putin can lead Russia, and Putin owns Russia's future. Anyone who suggests otherwise is living dangerously. “

For Kimmage and Lipman, Putin's inevitable victory next weekend is more than just another electoral victory. “It should be seen as a final salute to the remnants of the pre-Putinist political past. The emperor sits on his throne and all you can say is 'Hail Caesar!'

Even if the Russian president dies one day, there is a high probability that his legacy will live on. Has Putin Succeeded Where Hitler Failed? Absolutely not. Putinism has an Achilles heel, the populace. Although the government is doing everything it can to encourage women to have more children, the population is declining alarmingly.

Kolesnikov gives the statistics: “The pessimistic government figures assume that the Russian population will shrink by 15.4 million people by 2046 (excluding the four territories annexed to Ukraine). This corresponds to an annual loss of 700,000 people.

If we complain about the lack of skilled workers in this country: last year there were about two million job vacancies in Russia. By 2035 it could be twice as much.

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Despite several attempts, Putin has failed to reform the Russian economy. In order to keep it running, he is forced to constantly use reserves. “This shows that the country's position is economically and politically weak,” Kolesnikov said.

This weakness must be exploited, because the idea of ​​”forever Putinism” is a dream that should be the main priority of the West. Russia, notes the Economist, “has become a nihilistic and unpredictable adversary of the liberal world order.” It is “North Korea and Iran on steroids with thousands of nuclear weapons.”

Attacks on opponents of Putin and the Russian elite


Attacks on opponents of Putin and the Russian elite

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin not only silenced political opponents and critical journalists, he was assassinated. This photo series brings to mind some of the worst…

What: ap/pool sputnik kremlin / alexei druzhinin

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