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How Putin could be removed from power – and who would replace him - by Mark Galeotti

As an editorial addendum to the piece by the Financial Times, we enclose the following additional article on the politics behind Putin:

Shrouded behind a blizzard of secrecy it is almost impossible to discern what goes on beneath the onion domes of the Kremlin, but Mark Galeotti, author and lecturer on Russian security affairs attempts to lift the lid on some of the personalities and processes behind Putin's government in an article for the Telegraph.

We may not have heard of them, but one name in particular seems to have emerged as possible successor to the current leader should a vacancy emerge: Sergei Shoigu.

“He is not by background a military man. He was a civil engineer who then became the emergencies minister in the 1990s, a job which for many would have been the kiss of death, making him responsible for every natural or man-made disaster in that unruly decade. Yet he made a virtue of necessity and his willingness to roll up his sleeves and get involved in anything, from comforting relatives to digging through rubble, actually made him a national figure.

Shoigu might be the kind of savvy strongman at once able to wield the muscle to topple Putin and also the political skills to reassure the rest of the elite. Other key figures within the security apparatus, such as FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov or National Guard commander Zolotov, are too closely linked to Putin and too mistrusted to be credible candidates.”

Or he may be a transitional figure “who sweeps away the worst of Putinism, and sets the scene for the next generation of leaders.”

After all there is a younger generation waiting in the wings:

“They hanker after the good old days of the 2000s, when they were free to embezzle at home on an industrial scale, yet spend and bank that money in the West without fear of sanctions, asset freezes and Swift bans. They may not dare to turn against Putin now, as their fortunes and freedom are in his hands, but they are unlikely to want to continue his crusade against the West if they can possibly avoid it.”

Whatever may or may not happen, the West must proceed with utmost caution:

“With our screens darkened with terrible images of a maternity hospital shelled and Mariupol being starved into submission, it is only human that people have begun suggesting that something ought to be done to try to topple Putin’s regime or even remove him. This is understandable – but inadvisable.

Directly targeting Putin and failing would set a dangerous precedent and trigger retaliation. How would our MPs and senior civil servants enjoy having to check their door handles for Novichok every time they got home? Even a successful assassination would likely anger Russians from across the political spectrum and make it harder for a successor to roll back his aggressive policies and improve relations with the West.

For moment, then, it looks as if both we and the Russians are stuck with Putin. But in war, things can change quickly.”

The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article for Unherd by Mark Galeotti - How Putin could be removed from power – and who woul
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Vladimir Putin with Sergei Shoigu

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