What is even more striking about Putin’s positive thinking is that in recent weeks troubles have spread to the businesses in which he takes keen personal interest.
Putin cannot miss the gravitation of all these troubles towards Gazprom, which behaves as if the dawning ‘golden age’ of gas delivers it from the need to modernize its archaic and wasteful business mode. Instead of being an asset for Russia’s foreign policy, the energy export has become a liability that requires much political effort to court the consumers and reassure the partners. Putin cannot believe that it is his ‘manual management’ of the oil and gas business that has greatly amplified this trend, and keeps enacting clever schemes like expanding ties with President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (Kommersant, 8 October). He may even think that current economic mess provides a perfect background for his return to the Kremlin because a new spike in oil prices would calm the jitters and prove the indispensability of his leadership. Unpredictable oil prices might indeed oblige, but it will not cancel the fact that the economic model of Putinism is exhausted, primarily by its inherent corruption. The elites are massively deserting the self-appointed leader by evacuating their money to the West, while twitting the key-line from the hilarious flash-mob last week – SPASIBOPUTINUZAETO.