Russian President Vladimir Putin has dominated his country's political landscape for more than two decades. His regime muzzles opposition, restricts freedom of expression and expands its influence internationally.
Rumours about the fragile state of health of the Kremlin strongman have however, gave rise to a silent debate in Russia. Will the iron vice that is suffocating Russia's political climate come down when the 70-year-old politician dies?
According to Russian political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya, there are two possible scenarios.
“Putin's opponents believe that his death will be synonymous with reforms, both economically and socially. The most conservative believe, on the contrary, that his departure will lead to a hardening of the regime,” she wrote in the independent media The Moscow Times.
It's all a matter of time
If Putin takes the time to name a successor before leaving the presidency, the chances of things changing in Russia are pretty slim.
If he dies suddenly, the Kremlin will have to deal with a more unstable political climate.
“Many elements will thus escape his control and certain influential figures could take advantage of this to gain more power”, explains Ms. Stanovaya.
< p>Without a successor, the role of institutions, normally controlled by the regime, would grow in importance. emphasizes the political scientist.
The whole thing could lead to a quarrel to decide who will have the power. The outcome of this struggle will be based on the state of the regime that Vladimir Putin left behind.
Today, the government has a very high approval rating among the Russian population. This popularity, coupled with the lack of opposition, could sway future contenders to continue the Russian president's legacy.
However, a wind of change could shake the Kremlin if it dies leaving a weakened regime. Disappointment and anger could lead to a series of important reforms.
“In short, if Vladimir Putin died tomorrow, the conservatives would have the wind in their sails,” concludes Tatiana Stanovaya.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128