The Royal Role Model: Historical Revisionism in Russia
Vladimir Putin seems to have found his historical role model: Tsar Alexander III.
An anomalous facet of Russia’s authoritarian political system is that presidential elections are held on a regular basis. As Russian leader Vladimir Putin prepares for a ballot exercise in March, he has searched for a usable past that can help him legitimize his quasi-monarchical leadership style.
In his quest for historical legitimation, Putin has skipped over Russia’s revolutionary and republican era and zeroed in on the late imperial period. It is there that he seems to have found a role model – Tsar Alexander III (r. 1881-1894).
These days, modern-day Kremlin courtiers seem hell-bent on casting the Romanovs’ twilight years as a glorious period – a time when the empire was ruled by an assertive monarch who successfully managed to modernize a vast realm, while suppressing domestic dissent and keeping Western rivals at bay.
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Igor Torbakov is Senior Fellow at Uppsala University and at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm, Sweden