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Vladimir Putin’s Imperial Anxieties

After laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall, Putin greets Russian military leaders on Feb. 23, 2015. Putin’s understanding of the imperial nature of the Russian state could potentially hamper his ability to craft policies that give the country the best chance of avoiding a repeat of history, analysts contend. (Photo: Russian Presidential Press Service)

Part 2
 
As Russia’s economic crisis deepens, President Vladimir Putin will need to turn his attention to keeping the lid on domestic discontent. But Putin’s understanding of the imperial nature of the Russian state could potentially hamper his ability to craft policies that give the country the best chance of avoiding a repeat of history.  
 
Putin and his closest Kremlin allies belong to a generation of Russians molded by the last decades of communism, and were traumatized by the implosion of the Soviet state. To them, the events of 1991 were a “major geopolitical catastrophe.” Although clearly cognizant of the past, and rueful of its consequences, Putin’s interpretation of Russia’s history raises questions about whether he has learned the lessons needed to manage the country’s eternal ‘nationalities’ question. 
 

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Igor Torbakov is Senior Fellow at Uppsala University and at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Vladimir Putin’s Imperial Anxieties

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