In the annals of Russian history, there have been few leaders as notorious as Peter the Great, the enigmatic monarch who presided over the Tsardom in the late 17th to early 18th century. Notably, he held on to power for more than 15 months without succumbing to a coup, revolution, or an untimely demise. Fast forward to the present day, and we witness Vladimir Putin, the current Russian president, dominating the political landscape for over two decades. However, whispers of an impending downfall are growing louder, as analysts, experts, and defectors speculate about the stability of Putin’s enduring rule.
An increasingly prevalent argument suggests that Putin’s aggressive military endeavors in Ukraine are eroding domestic support for the Kremlin. The perception among certain circles is that the Russian president’s war efforts have had a negative impact on how his leadership is viewed within the country.
Nevertheless, other experts contend that the likelihood of a successful coup is low. They present several key points that form the crux of the debate surrounding Putin’s grip on power.
The Path to Unseating Putin In a recent interview with CNN, Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Putin, boldly predicted that a military coup could potentially dethrone the Russian president within the next year. Gallyamov pointed to the current domestic turmoil in Russia, stemming from a deteriorating economy and widespread discontent over the ongoing Ukrainian invasion.
Expanding on his assertion, the former speechwriter emphasized, “The Russian economy is deteriorating. The war is lost. As more dead bodies return to Russia, its citizens will face mounting difficulties and seek explanations. They will look to the political process and conclude, ‘Our country is governed by an old tyrant, an old dictator.'” Gallyamov further outlined how Moscow’s ineffective military operations in Ukraine are generating tensions among Russia’s military leadership.
Challenges to Overcome While some Ukrainian and Western analysts argue that Russian citizens are deeply frustrated with Putin’s leadership, others remain skeptical. The Kremlin’s tight control over information dissemination raises doubts about the public’s awareness of Russia’s dire situation.
In February 2022, when Russian forces initiated their military intervention in Ukraine, over 4,500 anti-war demonstrators were detained across the country. The strong deterrent to protesting against the Kremlin within Russia suggests that the populace may be less inclined to oppose their government.
This line of thinking implies that if a coup were to materialize, it would likely arise from within the ranks of the Kremlin’s own leadership—a formidable challenge in and of itself.
The delicate balance of power in Russia teeters on a precipice as speculation swirls around Putin’s enduring reign. The world watches with bated breath, waiting to see if history will repeat itself, and if another leader will join the ranks of Peter the Great in Russia’s tumultuous narrative. As the nation grapples with internal strife and external conflicts, the future of its leadership remains uncertain, and the stakes have never been higher.