Saturday’s protests in Moscow and several other Russian cities against Prime Minister Putin have sparked comments that the ruling Russian elite is out of touch with popular sentiment, and may be a sign of things to come.
20 years ago today saw the end of the Soviet Union when the then president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev resigned. Yesterday on the radio he said Putin should do the same.
“I’d advise Vladimir to step down now. It has been enough. Three terms, two as president and one as prime minister is enough, because otherwise circles and clans form close to the powerful leaders,” he said.
On December 25th 1991 Gorbachev moved aside to make way for Boris Yeltsin. His position had become untenable following an unsuccessful coup that August, and the breakaway of Belarus and Ukraine, which became independent states and founder members with Russia of the Confederation of Independent States on December 8th, a deal Yeltsin had brokered.
Yeltsin would become the first Russian president, and the Red Flags would come down across the nation to be replaced with the red white and blue Russian tricolor.
Statues of Lenin and other revolutionary leaders would soon follow, events that Putin has often described as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” Yet recent polls say only nine percent of Russians want the Soviet Union revived.