Vladimir Putin is no Joe Biden. Putin, unlike Biden, is afraid to face his political opponents in a free and fair election. He relies on threats, intimidation, and in some cases, assassination, to assure his election. Biden’s democratic mandate endows him with a legitimacy that Putin can neither buy nor coerce from his people. Biden has been tested in free and fair elections. He has debated his opponents. Putin has his political opponents killed, jailed, or intimidated.¹
Putin cheats in the same way his Olympic Athletes cheat.² He is not a man of courage or honour. He is a thug who rules through fear. He keeps his Oligarchic faction rich and the people pacified. There is no legitimacy for him and there is no love for him. He may wish to be seen as a powerful leader, a new Tzar, but he is weak and frightened. He counts among his supporters groups that are racist and white supremacist³ who remind the Russian people there is only the strong and the weak. There is no equality.
He hasn’t moved the people forward from when he took over power. Despite promises and providing some prosperity,⁴ the situation remains precarious for most Russians. They live lives more as subjects than as citizens able to participate in society.⁵ He is not trying to improve the country nor bring them democracy, or even to a place of civilisation. The public domain, a place where the Russian people could flourish, is closed as Putin has reverted to the dark barbarity of Russia’s past⁶ with the patina of modernity and technology.
The public space is a land of propaganda, disinformation, and misinformation. Russia’s wilderness of lies creates a society built on a shifting foundation buffeted by an elite who exercise their appetites. They gorge on the country’s natural resources and prey upon the public⁷ while the people live on the margins.
The Russian people long for a competent leader who can help them become free. Instead, they have a leader who boasts of his prowess even as their lives remain stagnant and enslaved by fear. If Putin had courage, he would have taken the challenge to make the country better. Instead, he has taken the easy path by catering to the powerful. Even that path has become too difficult so he has to kill his critics and political opponents.
Biden’s power comes from the people and the Constitution. Putin’s comes from the barrel of a Chechen’s gun. Some might try to excuse Putin’s criminal behaviour by saying that there is no other way to rule Russia. No, he could…