President Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for more than 15 years. He and his inner circle of siloviki, oligarchs and nationalist ideologists have not seriously attempted to reform and modernise Russia’s economy, which faces the prospect of continuous decline or even collapse in the next few years.
On the contrary, President Putin has persistently struggled to divert domestic public attention from internal problems to the confrontation with the West and the external crises created or exacerbated by Russia in Ukraine and Syria. In addition, President Putin’s regime has effectively zombiefied Russian society, forcing the vast majority of the population to trade their fragile political rights and liberties achieved under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s for an ostensible sense of rising prosperity and national pride. In return, the regime demands from its subjects iron-clad loyalty to virtually any of its political endeavours and submission to the total brainwashing conducted by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.