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Putin’s Deadly “Great Game”

President Vladimir Putin will visit Ukraine, the scene of his biggest foreign policy blunder, this weekend. Given his myopic actions at home, where he seems increasingly incapable of dealing with any institution that has any degree of autonomy, this seems unlikely.

For example, Putin recently abolished elections in Russia’s provinces. From now on, presidential appointees will rule a country that is as complex and multi-national as the EU or the US. That’s not a recipe for sophisticated thinking.

Indeed, elected officials in Russia have become an endangered species. The Kremlin black art of manipulating elections by deception and other means – called “political technology” by locals – will now be used only in other countries’ elections in, as these are the only real elections the Kremlin has to worry about, so neutered have Russia’s own votes become. The justification for canceling elections in Russia is the need to fight terrorism – the end that now justifies all means.

How did it happen that every contemporary problem, particularly in Russia, seems to have been reduced to terrorist attacks and counter-terrorist operations? Poverty, racism, and ideological legacies are just as visible now as they were three or thirteen years ago. Terrorism has not exacerbated them. Security forces have not helped resolved them.