23 May 2018

Unfolding Putin’s Russia: being the biggest gang in town

Thursday, May 17, Centre for Military Studies hosted the seminar "Unfolding Putin’s Russia", as the renowned scholar and expert on Russian affairs, Mark Galeotti, visited the University of Copenhagen. The seminar focused on what lies ahead of Putin’s fourth presidential term and how the Russian power structures and political culture have changed since his early inauguration.

The improvising opportunist
In his presentation, Mark Galeotti made it clear that Putin is no political thinker or philosopher with any grand vision; quite to the contrary, Putin has undergone a significant change in his time as president from strikingly pragmatic to exceedingly patriotic. Ultimately, Putin is best understood as an improvising opportunist whose policy can be difficult to predict. 

The political structures
Instead, Galeotti argued, it makes more sense to look at how Putin runs the system. In this case, Mark Galeotti made the argument that formal structures in Russia matters less and less, and instead we see the emergence of a ‘court’ where proximity and relations to the ‘tsar’ is of greatest importance. This is a system where kleptocrats and gangsters follow their own interests as long as no one challenges the biggest gang in town – the state.

A curious audience
Following Galeotti’s presentation, a dedicated audience raised questions ranging from what kind of concerns we should have towards Putin’s Russia in the years to come to whether ‘”the West’s” policy towards Russia then should be reconsidered