Speaker suggests how Russian regime change might occur

Feb. 27, 2015
Speculative details about regime change in Russia have emerged from an especially interesting source.

Speculative details about regime change in Russia have emerged from an especially interesting source.

They follow a warning reported here 2 weeks ago from Alexander J. Motyl, professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark, that military and domestic expenses, cheap oil, and sanctions threaten President Vladimir Putin’s ability to buy political support (OGJ Online, Feb. 23, 2015).

At a Chatham House event in London, a uniquely situated speaker on Feb. 26 suggested how change might unfold. In his words:

“Initially, there will be an unraveling within Putin’s political establishment, which will be accompanied by a struggle between the old guard and the new younger elite. This will result in the total paralysis of the government….

“Then, in an attempt to preserve stability, the Kremlin will initiate more political persecutions. It is unlikely that it will match the scale of Stalin’s purges, but most of the freedoms that were won over the past 30 years will be lost.

“And finally, moral and cultural degradation will give rise to religious radicalism as well as archaic, xenophobic, and reactionary attitudes. Attempts to limit the ‘corrupting influence of the West’ will transform into a full-scale witch-hunt.

“Any refusal to go along with acts of aggression and public persecution will result in suspicions of disloyalty. This will lead to even more educated people leaving the country and a further decline in economic potential.”

The speaker? Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who ran the oil giant Yukos until Putin arrested him in 2003 and dismantled the company. Released in 2013, Khodorkovsky now lives in exile.

While the former oligarch remains outspokenly disdainful of Putin, he professes, citing “the Russian people,” to be optimistic.

“The future of Russia and our relationship with the West lies beyond Putin, beyond his geopolitical ambitions and the warped way of understanding how the world works,” Khodorkovsky said.

An irritatingly pragmatic question, too important to ignore, is what might happen to 10.4 million b/d of oil production while Khodorkovsky’s scenario ran its course.

(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted Feb. 27, 2015; author’s e-mail: [email protected])

About the Author

Bob Tippee | Editor

Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.