OPINION / In the style of “it’s not true, but it could be”, it’s certainly nice to read to many people that Putin is already in a bad way, even that he is no longer among the living and his frail body has long been resting in the freezer. Putin probably won’t be very healthy, he hasn’t performed any sporting stunts in a long time and in any case he’s not the youngest anymore. But what is the point of the rumours, which keep surfacing and have even hardened considerably in recent days?
On his Telegram channel, Dmitry Travin mentions the rumored account “General SVR”, which styles itself as the notes of an insider, a former intelligence general who has remarkable insight into the day-to-day goings-on of the Kremlin. Who wrote it is not known for sure. The “suspect” is Valery Dmitriyevich Solovey (born August 19, 1960), a Russian political scientist, conspiracy theorist, historian, and former professor at the department of advertising and public relations at MGIMO. Solovej is known for his political predictions, most of which turned out to be wrong. And it was this person who announced Putin’s death on October 27.
The problem is that he’s been making Solo’s predictions for several years, which haven’t worked out very well.
September 8, 2017: “Putin will leave in two or three years according to Yeltsin’s scenario.”
December 30, 2018: “A large-scale political crisis will begin in late 2019, last two to three years, and end with the removal of the current regime from power and the restoration of Russia.”
December 24, 2019: “Putin to retire in 2020, replaced by Medvedev.”
June 13, 2020: “In 2022, we won’t see Putin in politics – neither Russian nor international.”
December 23, 2020: “In 2021, Putin will be gone and will have to leave office unconditionally.”
September 23, 2021: “Putin will leave the presidency by 2024.”
December 23, 2022: “Putin will be forced out of the Kremlin in the spring of 2023.”
October 23, 2023. “Putin Will Not Live to See Late Autumn.”
Finally, on October 27, the news of Putin’s death, which is being kept under wraps, came out, and a doppelganger is appearing in public.
This needs to be presented in order to make it clear what the Russian political scientist and columnist Dmitry Travin, whom we will quote, is writing about.
“Valerij Solovej embarked on a curious experiment. Now he is actually writing an alternative political history of today’s Russia. Yes, yes, this is not a political analysis, but a series in the genre of alternative history,” writes Travin on October 30.
“Judging by the fact that Russian viewers are increasingly switching from ‘brrr, that’s stupid!’ to ‘ha, ha, what’s next?’, his experiment is going well so far. The screenwriter’s strong move was undoubtedly the invitation of the gloomy, ascetic and mysterious Nikolai Patrushev (today the head of the Russian Security Council and a member of Putin’s informal inner circle, note ed.) to the main role of the informal ruler of Russia. The mass audience, who worshiped the mustachioed, menacing Stalin and told jokes about the bald Nikita Kukurichny, should fall in love with Patrushev, and not with some Mikhail Mishustin, although according to the constitution, the prime minister should fulfill the duties of the head of state. But what does the constitution have to do with it, when we have a soap opera here, and not a political analysis?’
On October 3, Travin adds something about the motives of this strange literary work.
“If someone wants to understand what General SVR and Professor VDS are for today (Valery Dmitriyevich Solovych, note ed.) alludes to, it is worth recalling the somewhat forgotten story of smart voting. (It was a strategy devised by Alexei Navalny and his team. Note ed.) Its essence was the destabilization of the authoritarian political system during elections by the votes of the active public. The ‘smart voter’ should have voted against the United Russia party and for any other party, not because that party was better, but to pit the pro-Kremlin parties against each other and cause a split in the elites. Of course, this move did not bring anything, because the power in the personalist autocracy is not concentrated in the United Russia party and similar imitations of parliamentarism, but in the top of the bureaucracy, including the power one. And her smart vote didn’t even try to trick her. No one knew how to do it,” writes Travin on a telegram.
He again mentions the strengthening of the role of Nikolai Patrushev, who is said to be running the country in the absence of Vladimir Putin. After his secret death, he has literally been on ice for several days. “The name of the mysterious Patrushev, which was previously known only to highly politicized citizens, is now hard-wired into the minds of general readers and professorial viewers. There is a kind of ‘smart vote’ going on for Patrushev against Putin.”
Travin does not want to speculate if this is an attempt to cause a split in the elites, or if the elites will just laugh it off.
In any case, the “general’s” notes can be read as an entertaining political pamphlet. (According to opinions circulating in Russia and Ukraine, the mysterious “general of the SVR” is Solovy himself.)
“After reading theses with quotations from the speech of the president’s double at a meeting with the members of the Public Chamber, the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, declared: ‘He (the double) perhaps sent..l?! Something has to be done about it.’ The funeral service for the late Vladimir Putin is scheduled for tomorrow. The former closest circle will meet on it. An opulent dinner has been ordered,” it says this Friday.
Above all, what seems true in all this is that Putin really seems like a dead man. He doesn’t look like a mover at all. Spectacular victories do not come. Instead of meeting politicians who mean something, he can only take pictures with completely obscure crime lords. The only person of importance that Putin can take a picture with is the Chinese president. But everyone there knows that Russia plays second fiddle in this relationship, and the embarrassed Russian empire has to beg if China will still buy some gas from it below the price.
When he adds serious-looking jokes that Vladimir Vladimirovich is actually already under the turf, it’s really embarrassing for him.