Empire 5.0

Empire 5.0

  • Michael Cholod
  • Mar 26th, 2024

On March 18th after a 'democratic' election in which he received 88% of the votes, Vladimir Putin was elected President of the Russian Federation for the fifth time. In fact, there are dozens of YouTube videos showing routine intimidation in polling stations across Russia as armed soldiers or police openly harass voters who were taking too long in the booths. In other words, not immediately choosing Putin, but rather writing in “Navalny” or simply spoiling the ballot.

This time the West has condemned the election as open fraud. Through the four previous proclamations Western leaders kept pretty quiet about Putin’s increasingly dangerous kleptocracy. As the legal successor to the USSR, Russia kept its permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The IOC awarded the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to Sochi. Until March 2014 when Russia attacked Ukraine’s Crimea, Putin was everyone's buddy. 

However, at the height of his power, high on glory from G8 summit galas and unfettered influence across the Middle East and Global South, Putin decided to invade Ukraine. Boom! Russia is dropped from the G8. Losing this world stage not only reduced his influence in the public eye and  stature among dictators around the globe, Putin also lost the confidence of his inner circle of criminal oligarchs and Western support.

From Hero to Zero

Now as we all know, Putin’s war in Ukraine has become Russia’s Vietnam. Instead of a death strike into the heart of his hated Western alliance, NATO is growing bigger and stronger. Russia is isolated not just economically and financially, but also diplomatically and will never regain superpower status as long as Putin holds power.

On the home front, the Wagner mutiny and resulting Prigozhin murder was a sign that Putin’s control over the military is not as airtight as he thinks. Furthermore, Alexei Navalny's murder is igniting even more domestic opposition. 

Putin craves legitimacy because his regime is not a government. It’s a mob-based criminal enterprise where Putin is the Don. From top to bottom his mob steals money to pay people for loyalty enabling the mob to remain in power. This is the inherent risk for Putin or any other mob boss.

Once an midlevel underboss doesn’t get paid regularly or realises the reward isn’t worth it anymore, he may just turn a blind eye to the next anti-Putin protest he sees. This is Putin's true existential crisis, because the only thing he cannot absolutely control is 145 million Russian citizens.

That's why Putin desperately wants these elections to be seen as legitimate, but that ain't gonna happen. Western pressure and Navalny's murder guaranteed that.

The last head to roll

Putin is the Mafia Don and we all know what eventually happens to the mob boss, in fact it always ends the same way. He’s murdered by his own people. Before then however, the Boss will isolate himself, surrounded by only his most trusted lieutenants.

As Putin's circle grows smaller, the less direct control he’ll have over the payment of bribes and rewards to supportive people and governments. Will North Korea and Iran continue supplying ammunition, missiles and drones if they do not receive cash or oil in return? Will the police chief in St. Petersburg turn a blind eye to anti-Putin protests?

His personal survival is now Putin's greatest fear. He’ll do anything to stay in power. Now is our time to stop him and we need the support of the Russian people. If 145 million people joined a mob to oppose Putin, the Don wouldn’t be around long enough to realize he’s already lost.

Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava!