Russian opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov argues that Vladimir Putin's days are numbered. Kasparov may be right that elite and public anger at the economic crisis and Putin's poor handling of it might lead to the collapse of his regime. I am less optimistic than Kasparov, however, about the likelihood that a post-Putin Russian government will be better than the current one. Kasparov seems to assume that Putin's fall will open the door for pro-western liberal democrats like Kasparov himself. I hope he is right, but I fear that ultranationalists and possibly the communists are in a stronger position to inherit Putin's mantle. They have greater influence in powerful institutions such as the military and secret police, and may well also have greater support from Russian public opinion. As I noted in earlier posts in this series, Russian opinion has been heavily influenced by years of nationalistic and anti-Western propaganda sponsored by Putin even as liberal democratic oppositionists were largely banned from the electronic media.
Garry Kasparov on Putin: