Prof. Mark Galeotti -- in Moscow! -- is brilliant on how an ageing, increasingly isolated, paranoid dictator with no way out except jail or the morgue is consolidating police-spy power around himself, and substituting regular army troops for expendable mercenaries, as Putin prepares his gov't. to overreact and "break heads" to head off any popular riots -- a Russian Maidan. Will the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution be the trigger?
And there's the truism that Western observers always have trouble with, yet Galeotti oft repeats: In Russia, money is a "symptom" of power, not vice-versa like in the neoliberal West. In Russia money could be gone tomorrow; whereas power can get money or whatever money can buy whenever it wants. So Russia is beyond oligarchy. It's hard for us Westerners to conceptualize.
Everyday Russians expect their leaders to be corrupt, Galeotti argues, therefore, the Panama Papers were a big yawn for Russians. It's the corruption "in their face" that bothers everyday Russians. And so for now Russians don't make the connection between everyday corruption and Putin's regime. For now.
By Jason Fields
Reuters | April, 29, 2016